Vitamin A deficiency among under-five Nigerian children with diarrhoea
Background: Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and diarrhoea are still important contributors to childhood deaths in Africa, and vitamin A deficient children are at increased risk as well as severity of diarrhoea.
Objectives:To determine the prevalence of VAD and identify the associated factors among children with diarrhoea.
Methods: The study was a hospital-based cross-sectional descriptive study. Consecutive children with diarrhoea were recruited, provided they met the inclusion criteria. Serum retinol levels were determined by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in one hundred and seventy under-five children who presented with diarrhoea at the Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesa, Nigeria.
Results: The serum retinol levels of the children ranged from 0.29 – 2.35 µmol/L with a mean ± SD of 1.07 ± 0.42 µmol/L. Twenty seven (15.9%) were vitamin A deficient with three (1.8%) of these having severe VAD. Wasting was significantly associated with a higher prevalence of VAD [p = 0.023, OR (95% CI) = 3.08 (1.21 - 7.79)]. A significantly greater proportion of the subjects who had VAD were hospitalized, compared with the non-deficient ones [p = 0.001, OR (95% CI) = 4.40 (1.82 - 10.66)]. The only subject who died was vitamin A deficient.
Conclusion: Wasting and hospitalization are factors that may indicate the presence of VAD in a child with diarrhoea. Vitamin A supplements should therefore be given, as part of the treatment for diarrhoea, to children who have wasting, especially when they require hospitalization.
Keywords: Vitamin A deficiency, Nigerian children, diarrhoea.