Submitted to: Public Health Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/9/2006
Publication Date: 8/1/2006
Citation: Maziya-Dixon, B., Akinyele, I.O., Sanusi, R.A., Oguntona, T.E., Nokoe, S.K., Harris, E.W. 2006. Vitamin A deficiency is prevalent in children less than 5 years of age in Nigeria. Journal of Nutrition. 136:2255-2261. Interpretive Summary: The Nigeria Food Consumption and Nutrition Survey was conducted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with the Nigerian National Planning Commission, several Nigerian universities, UNICEF, USAID, and the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service from October 2001 through June 2003. The survey represents the most current national survey to generate data in all aspects of nutrition for both planning and programming in Nigeria. Survey results have been used to (1) develop a National Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition in Nigeria, (2) adapt the use of PROFILES, and (3) inform the development of strategies for improving the nutritional status of Nigerians by development partners. The objective of this paper is to assess the vitamin A status of children <5 years of age.
Technical Abstract: Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a serious and widespread public health problem in developing countries. We conducted a nationwide food consumption and nutrition survey to inform strategies to address children among others, VAD in Nigeria. As one of the objectives, we assessed the vitamin A status of children < 5 y of age. A total of 6480 households with a mother and child < 5 y of age pair were randomly sampled. Blood samples were collected by venipuncture and processed to obtain serum from which serum retinol was determined by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Results indicate that nationwide 29.5% of children < 5 y of age are vitamin A deficient (serum retinol < 0.70 um/L). The level of VAD among the agro-ecological zones was significantly different from each other at 31.3% in the dry savanna, 24.0% in the moist savanna, and 29.9% in the humid forest (p<0.05). More children with severe deficiency (serum retinol below 0.35 um/L) lived in the humid forest (7.1%) than in the dry savanna (3.1%) and moist savanna (2.4%). The distribution of vitamin A deficient children < 5 y of age was 25.6% in the rural sector, 32.6% in the medium, and 25.9% in the urban sector. These were significantly different from each other at p<0.05. In conclusion, VAD is a severe public health problem in Nigeria. While the proportion of children with low serum vitamin A levels varies agro ecologically and across sectors, it is a significant public health problem in all zones and sectors.