Influence of vitamin A status on the anthropometric attributes of children aged 6-36 months in Tanzania
Vitamin A deficiency remains one of the health challenge causing morbidity and mortality among under-five children in Tanzania. This study was conducted to determine the influence of vitamin A status on the anthropometric attributes of the children aged 6 - 36 months living in Manyara and Shinyanga regions, Tanzania. Purposive and random sampling techniques were used to obtain a sample of 462 children aged 6 - 36 months. Data were analyzed using SPSS program version 20 and ENA for SMART. Results showed that, the average prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among 6-36 months old children was 69.5% (n=321). Prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among children aged 6 - 36 months by regions was 69.3% (n=303) in Manyara and 69.8% (n=159) in Shinyanga. Prevalence of VAD among non-breastfed children was 75% (n=117) while among breastfed children was 66.0% (n=203). VAD was therefore significantly higher (p<0.05) among the non-breastfed children than their breastfed peers. Prevalence of wasting (weight-for-height z-score) among the children aged 6 - 36 months was 6.9% (n = 32), stunting (height-for-age z-score) was 51% (n=236) and underweight (weight for age z-score) was 25.5% (n=118). Vitamin A status has influence on the anthropometric attributes; however statistical significance (p<0.05) was observed only on age and stunting. It is concluded from this study that, prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among 6 - 36 months old children was higher than the national average. It was significantly higher in the non-breastfed children than their breastfed peers. Also, children with VAD suffered from one or more forms of under-nutrition (wasting, stunting and underweight). Stunting and age of the children were the strong predictors of vitamin A status. These findings call for coordinated and sustainable intervention programs to reduce vitamin A deficiency and under-nutrition to optimize growth among children aged 6 – 36 months.
Keywords: Vitamin A Deficiency, anthropometric attributes under-five children, growth and development