Serum vitamin A levels among malnourished children aged 6 - 59 months in Zaria
Background: Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) affects an estimated 6 million pre-school children in Nigeria and 20 million in Africa. When associated with severe malnutrition, it significantly increases morbidity and mortality.
Objectives: To determine serum vitamin A levels in children with Protein Energy Malnutrition and age and sex prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among children with Protein Energy Malnutrition and controls at the institute of Child Health ABUTH Zaria.
Method: This was a case-control hospital-based descriptive study carried out at the Institute of Child Health (ICH) Banzazzau, Zaria. Systematic sampling method was adopted to select undernourished children aged 6-59 months for the study. Serum vitamin A level was analysed by High Performance Liquid Chromatography. The frequency of values below a cut off, usually taken as 0.70 μmol/L (20 μg/ dl ) for low and 0.35 μmol/L (10 μg/dl) for deficiency. Data was analysed using the Statistical Programme for Social Sciences version 15.4.
Results: In this study, 132 children (66 cases and 66 controls) aged 6-59 months were studied. Among the cases, all were wasted, out of which 13 (19.7%), 9 (13.6%) and 44 (66.7%) had mild, moderate and severe wasting. Similarly, all the cases were stunted with the severity ranging from mild, 11 (16.7%), moderate, 19 (28.8%) and severe, 36 (54.5%). All the controls were nutritionally normal. Twenty six (39.4%) and 30 (45.5%) were males while 40 (60.6%), 36(54.2%) were females (M:F= 1:1.5 and 1:1.2) among cases and controls respectively. Low serum vitamin A levels among the cases was 16.7%. VAD was seen only in those with severe wasting (5%). Malnourished females aged 13-24 months and males aged 49-59 months for the controls were more at risk of low vitamin A levels. Children who had measles, persistent diarrhoea, low maternal educational levels and low social class were at a higher risk of having low serum vitamin A levels
Conclusion: This study has been able to establish low vitamin A levels among both undernourished and controls in Zaria. This is of public health significance.