Prevalence and risk factors of vitamin A Deficiency amongst pre-school children in Gichugu division, kirinyaga district, kenya.
Mugambi, R M
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This study was undertaken to assess the risk of vitamin A deficiency and determine its possible determinants in three sub-locations, Thimu, Thumaita and Rwambiti of Gichugu Division, Kirinyaga District. Socio-economic and demographic data were collected from 456 households from which also 268 children between 6 and 60 months old were sampled for anthropometric measurements and clinical eye examination. At the same time, sub-samples of 155 and 171 children were taken for analysis of serum retinol levels and helminthic infections respectively. Supportive qualitative data were also collected using focus group discussions and market surveys. Finally, the household consumption pattern for foods rich in vitamin A was also determined. Anthropometric measurements did not include Vitamin A deficiency as a public health problem. However the weight for height (wasting) indicated the deficiency in Thimu sub location only. On the other hand low birth weight rates of 23.2%, 28.9% and 28.2% in Thimu, Thumaita and Rwambiti respectively giving an average of 26.9% in the three sub locations indicated vitamin A deficiency in the study area. On the contrary the breast-feeding history and rate of immunization did not indicate vitamin A deficiency. All the socio-economic determinants of vitamin A deficiency tested 1.e. monthly food expenditure, land size levels, levels of employment, access to safe water, supply morbidity and helminthic infection rates showed that vitamin A deficiency was a public health problem in the study area. Prevalence of helminthic infections however indicated vitamin A deficiency in Thimu and Rwambiti but no in Thumaita. x Night blindness indicated vitamin A deficiency in Thimu and Thumaita only while serum retinol levels indicated vitamin A deficiency in all sub locations. However clinical eye examination did not show severe vitamin A deficiency inform of Bitots spot or conjunctiva xerosis. The findings of the study indicate that vitamin A deficiency is of public health importance in all the three sub locations studies. This conclusion is based on the positive indication by two biological indicators, serum retinol levels and xerophthalmia supported by several socioeconomic factors including high levels of child morbidity and rates of helminthic infections.