Vitamin A Deficiency and Children Health | Night blindness | Supplementation

Vitamin A Deficiency and Children Health | Night blindness | Supplementation

Vitamin A Deficiency and Children Health | Night blindness | Epithelial Metaplasia | Supplementation

Vitamin A Deficiency and Children Health: Vitamin A deficiency is the major cause of avoidable childhood blindness and increases the risk of death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea.

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that is required for Bone growth, Reproduction, Embryogenesis. Rod vision, Cell differentiation, Immunity.

Health Consequences of VAD:

  • Growth retardation
  • Dysfunction (M&F)
  • Teratogenesis
  • Night blindness
  • Corneal blindness and disability
  • Epithelial metaplasia
  • Impaired innate &
  • Acquired defenses
  • Mortality

Vitamin A Deficiency and Children Health | Night blindness | Supplementation


Effects of Vitamin A deficiency disorders (VADD) & Children Health:

The children in poor societies are especially open to vitamin A deficiency and its health consequences (xerophthalmia, infection, poor growth, anemia, mortality) due to high nutrient demand to support growth, frequent exposure to infection and nutritionally demanding illnesses, and chronic lack of an adequate diet and health care.

Poor growth-

Vitamin A is essential for mammalian growth. Although vitamin A is doubtless needed for a child’s
growth, isolating its effects amidst other growth-limiting insults (coexisting nutrition deficiencies or
infection) has proven difficult. Children with mild xerophthalmia are often stunted\short heightened and may exhibit some degree of wasting as well. The more severe the vitamin A deficiency or illness, the greater the chances
that supplementation will improve either linear or ponderal growth.


The children with xerophthalmia have been noted to be anemic. Anemia of vitamin A deficiency may be attributed to several plausible mechanisms that may respond to improved vitamin A nutriture, including impaired mobilization and transport of body iron disturbed erythropoietin synthesis, sequestration of iron in response to acute and chronic infection, or defective hematopoiesis in the bone marrow.

Infectious diseases-

Vitamin A deficiency increases susceptibility to infections. Children with mild xerophthalmia ( night blindness or Bitot’s spots) exhibit impaired antibody and cell-mediated immunity, poor growth, elevated acute phase plasma proteins suggestive of infection, in addition to increased risks of diarrhea, respiratory disease, and mortality.

The children with diarrhea and lower respiratory infection living in endemic vitamin A deficiency areas are more likely to develop xerophthalmia. These responses, coupled with decreased vitamin A intake and absorption, act to deplete tissue retinol that can result in health consequences. Vitamin A supplementation has been shown to reduce the severity of measles, malaria, and diarrhea.


Xerophthalmia remains the leading known cause of preventable blindness in young children. Corneal xerosis, necrosis (keratomalacia), ulceration are the result of severe vitamin A deficiency. The affected children usually having serum retinol concentrations below the conventional cutoff of 0.70 µmol/L.

Xerophthalmia responds to high-potency vitamin A treatment, with night blindness typically resolving within 24–48 hours, Bitot’s spots responding within several days to a few weeks, and corneal lesions beginning to heal within
2–3 days.

Child mortality:

An increased intake of vitamin A, achieved by supplementation or food fortification, can improve the survival of older infants and preschool-age children. On the other hand, vitamin A supplementation below 6 months of age may or may not improve early infant survival.

The findings suggest that consuming vitamin A in smaller, more frequent doses through diet or supplements could be more protective, programmatically more demanding, than periodic
use of high-potency vitamin A. . Dosing mothers with vitamin A has also achieved little improvement in early infant survival.

Prevention of vitamin A deficiency:

Vitamin A deficiency can be controlled as a public health problem by maintaining adequate intakes of the nutrient in high-risk groups through:

  • direct supplementation,
  • fortification,
  • agronomic programs,
  • Educational efforts to improve diet. A diet that regularly provides preformed vitamin A or provitamin A carotenoid is strongly associated with protection from VADD among children.
  • Strive toward higher consumption of vegetable, fruit, and animal sources of vitamin A.
  • Nutrition education, social marketing, and other food-based approaches can be equally developed from epidemiologic evidence.
  • Guiding mothers to breastfeed infants through the third year of life rests on a consistent association of protection against xerophthalmia.
  • Vitamin A supplementation at birth may improve chances of survival during early infancy.

It is suggested that suggests that health care providers should do the following:

  • treat the xerophthalmic child (or night-blind mother) appropriately
  • broadly implement supplementation
  • gardening, or counseling programs in communities from which cases originate.

Vitamin A Deficiency and Children Health Conclusion:

In children, Vitamin A deficiency leads to VADDs, which include xerophthalmia with its potential to blind; impaired host resistance to infection with consequent increased risks of severe diarrhea, measles, malaria, and other febrile illnesses; poor growth; and mortality.

Prevention of vitamin A deficiency and its disorders can have a marked effect on child health and survival. Vitamin A supplementation at birth may improve chances of survival during early infancy.

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Author: Dua Zehra

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