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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2012 Apr;106(4):205-14. doi: 10.1016/j.trstmh.2012.01.004. Epub 2012 Feb 11.

Epidemiology of vitamin A deficiency and xerophthalmia in at-risk populations.

Author information

1
Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. justincsherwin@gmail.com

Abstract

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is an important public health problem worldwide that contributes significantly to the global burden of disease. Vitamin A deficiency disorders include xerophthalmia and increased risk of infectious diseases, both of which increase risk of mortality. Xerophthalmia is also a leading cause of preventable blindness. Areas with highly prevalent VAD often share common dietary and other environmental exposures, including poverty, infectious diseases, limited development and poor availability of vitamin A containing food. Globally, the prevalence of VAD has been declining, which may be due to widespread vitamin A supplementation in conjunction with measles immunisation in at-risk populations. Recent meta-analyses confirm that provision of vitamin A to children aged between 6 months and 5 years confers a significant mortality benefit. Further preventative measures for VAD comprise improving availability of vitamin A containing food, including foods biofortified with vitamin A. Ensuring vitamin A is available in any form in adequate quantities remains problematic, especially in areas affected by environmental catastrophes and conflict, and other areas where access to vitamin A containing foods and healthcare interventions is limited. Hence, it remains essential that maternal and child health workers remain vigilant for VAD in nutritionally vulnerable populations.

PMID:
22326691
DOI:
10.1016/j.trstmh.2012.01.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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