2 in 5 Indian children missing out on preventive vitamin A dose: Study | Mint – Mint


  • Vitamin A is important for many cellular processes in the human body that are critical for eyesight, growth and development, wound healing, reproduction and immunity, among others

NEW DELHI : Two in five children in India are missing out on vitamin A supplements designed to prevent health problems associated with deficiency of the vitamin, according to an analysis of representative survey data published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Global Health.
Vitamin A is important for many cellular processes in the human body that are critical for eyesight, growth and development, wound healing, reproduction and immunity, among others.
Overall, 123,836 (60.5%) of the 204,645 surveyed children aged 9 to 59 months (9 months to 5 years) had received vitamin supplements.
A cross-sectional study at a population level was conducted in 640 districts across all states and union territories (UTs) from the data collected during the fourth round of the National Family and Health Survey 4 (NFHS-4) between January 2015 and December 2016.
The participants included 699,686 women and 112,122 men, enrolled from 601,509 households all over the country to obtain the information from parents about whether their children had received vitamin A supplement (VAS) within 6 months of the survey.
The author of the study, Dr Kaustubh Bora, Hematology Division, ICMR’s Regional Medical Research Centre in Assam, noted, “The study showed the highest vitamin A supplement (VAS) coverage was recorded in Goa (89.5%) followed by Sikkim (84.3%). The coverage was least in Nagaland (29.5%), followed by Manipur (32.1%), Uttarakhand (36.9%), Uttar Pradesh (40.0%). The coverage was lowest in Rajasthan (20%) when compared district wise.”
Since 2006, the Central government has recommended high dose vitamin A supplements for all children aged 9 to 59 months.
Evidence-based approaches are required to assess the impact of these differences and ensure that appropriate vitamin A interventions are delivered to the people most in need, Dr Bora noted.
Nationally, nearly two out of every five Indian children in the eligible age range were not supplemented with vitamin A during the reporting period.
Globally, an estimated 190 million (or one in three) children under the age of 5 years are afflicted by VAD (Vitamin A deficiency).
Dr Sanjeev Bagai, chairman nephron clinic and a noted paediatrician said, “Vitamin A deficiency is common in children largely goes undiagnosed and undetected specially in developing nations. Approximately 30-35% of children under the age of 5 years have some form of Vitamin A deficiency.
“The pre-disposing factors are maternal malnutrition, early pregnancies, small gap in between pregnancies, pre-maturity and Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), infant malnutrition, vitamin and micro-nutrient deficiency chronic diarrhea, poor feeding habits, etc.
“If left untreated, it leads to poor growth, chronic infection and night blindness and xerophthalmia. Vitamin A is micronutrient and extremely important and not talked about more often like Vitamin D.”
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