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Nutr Health. 2012 Jan;21(1):45-55. doi: 10.1177/0260106012437545.

Sudanese women's and neonates' vitamin A status.

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  • 1Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, London Metropolitan University, UK.


We have determined and compared the concentration levels of retinol and β-carotene in the plasma of three Sudanese women groups (displaced southern Sudanese women (DSSW), non-displaced southern Sudanese (NDSSW) and northern Sudanese women (NSW)), who were either pregnant or non-pregnant; and in their neonates (cord plasma). Plasma samples were analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography using reversed-phase column and diode-array detectors. The results revealed that retinol and β-carotene in the plasma of non-pregnant and pregnant women in the three groups were very low compared with studies reported elsewhere. Over 50% of pregnant DSSW and NDSSW had a low concentration of retinol plasma (< 0.70 µmol/L), and about 15-20% were deficient (< 0.35 µmol/L) according to World Health Organization criteria. Although the average retinol concentration in the plasma of pregnant NSW was > 0.70 µmol/L, which suggests sufficiency status, 32% showed lower levels and 10% were deficient. Plasma retinol β-carotene levels in the neonates' cords were also lower than their mothers and in comparison with other studies. These findings are in agreement with previous survey data and clinical reports, which also suggest that vitamin A deficiency is of great concern in the country. We concluded that insufficient intake of food of animal origin and repeated malarial and other parasitic diseases are the most likely causes of vitamin A deficiency.

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