Effect of powdered orange and white fleshed sweetpotato (ipomoea batatas) on serum retinol and carotenoid concentration in 3 to 7 years old children in Nambale division Busia district, Kenya
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The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the powdered orange fleshed sweetpotatoes (Ipomoea Batatas, SPK 004 also known as Kakamega 4 ) on serum retinol and carotenoids in a sample of one hundred and seventy Early Childhood, Care and Development Center children aged 3-7years in Nambale Division, Busia District. Two groups of 85 children were sequentially assigned to the experimental group and the control group. They were all fed on 500mL of porridge made from the same recipe except for the sweetpotato varieties. The experimental group was fed on powdered orange fleshed sweetpotato powder porridge while the control group was fed on the white fleshed sweetpotato porridge for 60 days. Zinc Sulphate made into a known solution was added to enhance bio-conversion of beta- carotene to retinol. Quality control measures were observed. The main selection criterion for inclusion in the study was the cut- off for haemoglobin concentration set at 7.3 g/dL in this study. Baseline data was collected for morbidity, anthropometry, blood retinol, blood carotenoids and zinc serum concentrations including haemoglobin levels. All children were given malaria prophylaxis and also dewormed before the beginning of the feeding intervention. This was repeated two weeks before final data collection. Subsequently, post intervention data of the same variables was taken and analysis done. Before the final data collection a wash out - period was observed. Baseline characteristics for instance anthropometry, vitamin A status, haemoglobin, number of persons in Households showed that there were no significant differences between the two treatment groups. The results also showed that there was improvement in mean weight changes and a positive shift in haemoglobin concentrations, indicating increase in weight and haemoglobin levels within the two treatment groups, though the changes were not significant (p> 0.05) in the cases from 114.60 ± 0.14 g/L baseline to 117.80 ± 0.15 g/L final in the experimental group while in the controls 117.00 ± 0.13 g/L baseline to 120.30 ± 0.12 g/L for Hb's, Serum retinol from 1.07 ± 0.03 umol/L baseline to 1.01 ± 0.03 umol/L, final in the experimental group, while in the control group 1.08 ± .035 umol/L baseline to 1.04/-LmollL± .04 final and serum carotenoids concentration in the experimental group increased in cases from 126.81± 6.02 ug/I OOmLbaseline to 130.39 ± 5.33 ug/I OOmLfinal, but the increase was not significant (p> 0.05) in the cases. The control group results showed a slight decrease from 130.20± 5.68 /-LgIlOOmLbaseline to 127.65 ± 5.84/-LgIl00 mL final. The children's diet was predominantly cereal based (54%) while vitamin A foods were least consumed compared to proteins and calories. There were more zinc deficient children in the control group (58.1%) than the experimental group (51.1 %), but the numbers were not significant (p> 0.05). In conclusion, it was observed that the changes in weight and increase in Hb's were more as a result of malaria prophylaxis and deworming of the children than the feeding intervention, nevertheless the study is useful for maintaining vitamin A status rather than for liver storage. The findings suggest that large amounts of beta- carotene were lost during the processing due to poor storage and drying of the Sweetpotato chips in direct sun. Hence, the powdered orange fleshed Sweetpotato flour being used in Western Province may not be a reliable source of vitamin A or pro- vitamin A. Therefore, further studies are required to establish better ways of retaining the betacarotene in processed flour and also set up appropriate intervention packages using the Powdered Orange Fleshed Sweetpotato.