Vitamin A deficiency
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004) 58, 1342–1349. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601973 Published online 31 March 2004
Vitamin A deficiency and xerophthalmia among school-aged children in Southeastern Asia
1Center for Human Nutrition, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
Correspondence: KP West, Jr, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Human Nutrition, Room W2505, 615 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guarantor: KP West Jr.
Contributors: VS studied the literature, calculated estimates and wrote the paper. KPW conceptualized the problems, guided the analyses and contributed to writing the paper.
Received 18 July 2003; Revised 10 November 2003; Accepted 1 December 2003; Published online 31 March 2004.Top of page
Objective: To determine provisional estimates of the extent of vitamin A (VA) deficiency and xerophthalmia among school-aged children.
Design: Literature search of published, unpublished and website-based population survey and study reports, with country-specific imputation of prevalence rates and numbers of children affected by: (1) VA deficiency based on measured or imputed distributions of serum retinol concentration <0.70 mol/l (equivalent to <20 g/dl) and (2) xerophthalmia, by country.
Setting: Countries within the WHO South-East Asian Region.
Subjects: The target group for estimation was children 5–15 y of age.
Results: The estimated prevalence of VA deficiency is 23.4%, suggesting that there are 83 million VA-deficient school-aged children in the region, of whom 10.9% (9 million, at an overall prevalence of 2.6%) have mild xerophthalmia (night blindness or Bitot’s spot). Potentially blinding corneal xerophthalmia appears to be negligible at this age.
Conclusions: VA deficiency, including mild xerophthalmia, appears to affect large numbers of school-aged children in South-East Asia. However, nationally representative data on the prevalence, risk factors and health consequences of VA deficiency among school-aged children are lacking within the region and globally, representing a future public health research priority.
vitamin A deficiency, xerophthalmia, night blindness, Bitot’s spots, school-aged children, South-East Asia