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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 61-64

Dietary deficiency of vitamin A among rural children: A community-based survey using a food-frequency questionnaire

1 Department of Community Medicine, Lady Hardinge Medical College and associated hospitals, New Delhi, 110001, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College and associated hospitals, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Correspondence Address:
Shivali Suri
Department of Community Medicine, Lady Hardinge Medical College and associated hospitals, New Delhi, 110001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 28816210

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Background. Overt vitamin A deficiency has been controlled in most parts of India, but prevalence of subclinical deficiency may still be high, which may enhance susceptibility to infections, reduce growth potential and also lead to higher mortality. We aimed to: (i) assess the consumption pattern of vitamin A-rich foods in children 1–5 years of age in rural Jammu; and (ii) estimate the dietary deficiency of vitamin A leading to risk of subclinical vitamin A deficiency in cluster- villages of the study area. Methods. In 2011, we conducted a survey of 750 children by selecting 50 from each of the 1 5 clusters. The Helen Keller International's Food-Frequency Questionnaire (HKI-FFQ) modified to the local context was used to assess past week's intake for 28 food-items, including vitamin A-rich foods. Results. The study revealed that plant sources such as amaranth, carrots, etc. and animal sources such as eggs and butter were the major sources of vitamin A in the study population. Consumption of amaranth (2.7 days/week) and carrots (1.7 days/week) was moderate but that of animal foods rich in vitamin A was low to negligible (1.1 day/week for eggs and 0.2 day/week for liver and fish combined). The majority (80%) of the cluster-villages manifested inadequate intake of vitamin A-rich foods, thereby making subclinical vitamin A deficiency a public health problem for the whole area. Faulty diets, improper breastfeeding practices, low coverage of vitamin A supplementation and high prevalence of undernutrition could be related to the observed subclinical deficiency. Conclusion. Dietary diversification by including both plant and animal sources of vitamin A in adequate amounts along with improved breastfeeding, better implementation of mega-dose vitamin A supplementation and minimizing undernutrition may help in lowering subclinical vitamin A deficiency. The HKI-FFQ may be used as a proxy indicator of vitamin A intake/status for identifying pockets at risk of subclinical vitamin A deficiency in resource-constrained settings.

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