The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency is higher in developing countries in southeast Asia, south Asia, east Asia and the Pacific region, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, northern Africa, and Central and South America (Fig. 15) (600,601). Vitamin A deficiency is considered a public health problem in about 78 countries worldwide, and the geographical distribution of vitamin A deficiency follows the same general pattern as for poverty, malnutrition, and greater burden of infectious diseases such as diarrheal disease and malaria. Vitamin A deficiency is often defined as a public health problem based on any of the following criteria among children aged less than 6 yr: (1) prevalence of night blindness >1.0%, (2) prevalence of Bitot spots >0.5%, (3) prevalence of corneal xerosis and/or ulceration >0.01%, (4) prevalence of xerophthalmia-related corneal scars >0.05% (600). Supportive biochemical evidence of deficiency is a prevalence of serum retinol <0.35 |imol/L in >5% (600).
In the following section, the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency is described in studies from selected countries where there is sufficient data in the published scientific literature. Many surveys of vitamin A deficiency have appeared as internal or local government reports and not in the scientific literature, and many reports up to 1995 have been summarized by WHO (600). The quality of survey design ranges from rigorous population-based cluster sampling to convenience samples. For some countries, there has been little published in the scientific literature within the last decade, and in some cases, prevalence data are available before and after the implementation of vitamin A programs. The existence of programs to improve vitamin A status, especially through high-dose vitamin A capsule distribution, is also described in this section where data are available, as vitamin A programs have generally had a demonstrable impact on the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in many countries. Although some developing countries have officially adopted a national policy of vitamin A capsule distribution, the extent of implementation and coverage can vary considerably.
Cambodia. The first national survey to assess the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in Cambodia was conducted in 2000 by Helen Keller International (602,603). The prevalence of xerophthalmia among children aged 18-60 mo was 0.7% (602), and the prevalence of xeropthalmia among nonpregnant women was 2% (603). The survey revealed that high-dose vitamin A supplementation was reaching 10-55% of children aged 6-59 mo and 1-13% of postpartum women. The government of Cambodia integrated high-dose vitamin A capsule distribution into national immunization days for polio in 1996 (694).
Vietnam. The prevalence of xerophthalmia has declined in Vietnam since the mid-1980s. In a survey in 1985 of 14,238 preschool children in the Hanoi region and the provinces of Vinh Phu, Ha Nam Ninh, Ha So.n Binh, and Hai Phong, the overall prevalence of xerophthalmia was 0.78%. Active corneal xerophthalmia was found in 0.08%, and 0.13% of children had corneal scarring from xerophthalmia (605). In 1984, a study of 2207 preschool children in Hoang Thi Luy, Ngo Nhu, and Phan Ke Ton and the vicinity of Ho Chi Minh City showed that 0.24% had night blindness, 0.13% had Bitot spots, 0.13% had corneal xerosis, and 0.27% had corneal scarring (606). In the Vietnam National Blindness Survey conducted 1985-1988, of 34,214 preschool children, 0.37% had night blindness, 0.16% had Bitot spots, 0.07% had corneal xerosis, and 0.12% had corneal scarring (607). A program of high-dose vitamin A capsule distribution commenced in Vietnam in 1988 (607). The program started in seven pilot districts and expanded to all communes of the country by 1993 (607). By 1994, when the National Vitamin A Deficiency survey was conducted in 25 provinces, of 37,920 preschool children, 0.05% had night blindness, 0.045% had Bitot spots, 0.005% had corneal xerosis, and 0.048% had corneal scarring (607). The 1994 survey was conducted 2 mo following the July 1994 round of universal high-dose vitamin A capsule distribution to preschool children, and the coverage of preschool children was nearly 94% (607). Surveys conducted since the 1980s show a clear reduction in the prevalence of clinical vitamin A deficiency among
preschool children. The number of children with xerophthalmia who were admitted to the main hospitals in Vietnam has decreased greatly from 1990 to 1999 (Fig. 16) (608).
Laos. A survey conducted in 1995 of 3376 children aged 0-71 mo and 680 mothers in 17 provinces showed that night blindness occurred in 0.7% of children aged 24-71 mo and in 5.4% of lactating women (609). Night blindness was found in 11.5% of pregnant women (609).
Thailand. A survey conducted in northeastern Thailand in 1985 showed a prevalence of night blindness of 1.3% and of Bitot spots of 0.4% among preschool children (610). An estimated 20% of preschool children had subclinical vitamin A deficiency in north and northeast Thailand in a survey that used conjunctival impression cytology and relative dose response (RDR) to measure vitamin A deficiency (611). Screening indicators have been used to identify areas at risk for vitamin A deficiency in Thailand (611). A survey of 178 preschool children from three rural villages in Chiang Mai province showed that 14% had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 pmol/L (613). A study of 262 lactating women in rural Chiang Mai province in 1999 showed that 73.6% had breast milk retinol concentrations <1.05 pmol/L (614).
Malaysia. There have been reports of xerophthalmia in Malaysia since the 1920s, but the prevalence of clinical vitamin A deficiency declined by the 1970s (615). A survey among more than 200 aborigine children under age 15 yr in Perak, Malaysia showed that night blindness occurred in 16% and Bitot spots in 2.8% (616). A recent survey by the government and UNICEF suggested that less than 5% of400 children under age 5 yr had serum retinol levels <0.70 pmol/L (615).
Singapore. Vitamin A deficiency is not a public health problem in Singapore, which is among the countries with the highest standards of living in the world. It is notable that keratomalacia was once present and showed a steady decrease in incidence since World War II (617).
Myanmar. The government of Myanmar began a program of high-dose vitamin A capsule distribution in 1996 (618).
Indonesia. As noted previously, vitamin A deficiency has been recognized as a serious problem in Indonesia since the 1900s (110-115,619). High-dose vitamin A capsule dis tribution was introduced in Indonesia in 1971, and an evaluation of capsule distribution by the Indonesian government in 1972-1973 showed that the prevalence of Bitot spots was reduced in children that received capsules (620). The Ministry of Health began more expanded distribution of high-dose vitamin A capsules to preschool children in 1973, and the number of children who received capsules increased from about 74,000 in 1973-1974 to nearly 1 million in 1982-1983. A national survey for vitamin A deficiency was conducted in 1977-1978 (285). The prevalence of Bitot spots was as high as 2.4% in Aceh and 2.0% in Ambon, and overall, the prevalence of Bitot spots was 1% (621). A national survey in 1992 showed that the prevalence of active xerophthalmia declined by 75% and active corneal disease declined by 95% since the 1977-1978 survey (622). Similarly, admissions for xerophthalmia at Cicendo Eye Hospital in Bandung showed a large decline from 1981 to 1992 (623).
Pakistan. A survey of 532 children, aged 6-60 mo, from the slums of Karachi showed that inadequate dietary intake of vitamin A and subclinical vitamin A deficiency were common (624).
Surveillance for xerophthalmia in hospitals of northwest Pakistan revealed 76 children with blinding xerophthalmia in 12-mo period between 1996 and 1997 (625). Serum vitamin A concentrations have been described in preschool children in Pakistan (626).
India. A survey of vitamin A deficiency was conducted among 164,512 children less than 6 yr old in 16 districts of 11 states in India from 1997 to 2000 and showed the highest prevalence of night blindness and Bitot spots of 5.17% and 4.71%, respectively, in Gaya district (627). In Dibrugarh district, 19.62% of pregnant women reported having night blindness (627). The prevalence of Bitot spots was 1.8%, 0.7%, and 0.7% based on pooled data from seven states from surveys conducted in 1975-1979, 1988-1990, and 1996-1997 (628). A study of 308 children under age 6 yr showed that 35.7% had abnormal impression cytology that was suggestive of subclinical vitamin A deficiency (629).
Bangladesh. Xerophthalmia was recognized in the early 1970s to be the leading cause of blindness among children (630). Vitamin A capsule distribution was initiated in 1973, with periodic dosing given through the Bangladesh Programme for the Prevention of Blindness. A national survey conducted in 1982-1983 showed that vitamin A deficiency was a major public health problem in areas of Bangladesh (630). In 1991, vitamin A capsules were distributed to infants at the time of childhood immunization contacts and also on national immunization days (631). A national survey conducted in 1997-1998 showed that the prevalence of night blindness among preschool children decreased from 3.76% in 1982-1983 to 0.66% (631).
Nepal. Xerophthalmia is a major cause of childhood blindness in Nepal (632). In 1989-1991, at baseline in an intervention trial in Sarlahi, an area in lowland Nepal, 2.8% of 4318 preschool children had xerophthalmia (633). Xerophthalmia has been described in 3-13.2% of preschool children in various parts of Nepal in the early 1990s (600).
Bhutan. Nutritional surveys conducted in the 1980s showed on the basis of prevalence of xerophthalmia and serum retinol levels that vitamin A deficiency was a significant public health problem (600).
Sri Lanka. The average prevalence of Bitot spots in a national survey in 1987 was 0.3%, with some districts showing a higher prevalence (600).
Mongolia. A survey in 1992 showed that of 1679 children, 0.8% had Bitot spots (634). Of576 children, aged 7-72 mo, seen in Ulaanbaatar and nine aimags (provinces) in 1998, night blindness was found in 0.16% and 19.8% had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 pmol/L (634).
Philippines. A survey in Quezon, Northern Samar, and Zamboanga del Sur provinces of 11,378 children, aged 6-83 mo, showed that 1.6-4.4% had night blindness and 0.62.7% had Bitot spots (635). In Mindanao, a survey of 248 preschool children in a rural area near Davao City showed that 29% had serum retinol <0.70 pmol/L (636). In 1993, a national nutrition survey showed that vitamin A deficiency was a public health problem among children and pregnant and lactating women (637). Country-wide distribution of high-dose vitamin A capsules to children aged 12-59 mo began in 1993 and continued semiannually for 6 yr (638). A national nutrition survey conducted in 1998 showed that low plasma retinol concentrations were common among preschool children and pregnant and lactating women, despite the presence of high-dose vitamin A capsule distribution programs (637). In 1999, vitamin A capsule distribution was integrated with health care services for children aged 0-59 mo that included immunization, deworming, dental hygiene, and other child health issues (638).
Solomon Islands. A survey conducted in 1991 in Guadacanal, Western Province, and Malaita of children aged 6-72 mo showed that 0.52% had night blindness and 1.42% had Bitot spots (639). Vitamin A initiatives are currently be conducted through the Solmon Islands Development Trust.
Kiribati. Vitamin A deficiency was common in Kiribati (640). In 1989, a survey of 4617 children, aged 6-72 mo, showed that 8.16% had nightblindness and 11.12% had Bitot spots (639,641). Since the time of the survey, a national vitamin A capsule distribution program, nutrition education, and home gardening projects were implemented (641).
Cook Islands. A survey conducted in 1992 of 338 children, aged 6-72 mo, showed that night blindness occurred in 0.59%. No Bitot spots were found (639).
Tuvalu. A survey of1053 children, aged 6-72 mo, conducted in 1991 showed that 0.19% had night blindness and 0.09% had Bitot spots (639).
Vanuatu. In 1991, a survey of1785 children, aged 6-72 mo, showed that nightblindness and Bitot spots occurred among 0.06% and 0.06%, respectively (639).
Republic of the Marshall Islands. A survey conducted among 919 preschool children, aged 1-5 yr, in 1994 showed that 59.9% had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 pmol/L (642). A nationwide vitamin A capsule distribution program has been adopted, but sporadic cases of xerophthalmia are still found (Neal Palafox, personal communication, 2005).
Micronesia. An outpatient clinic-based study showed that nightblindness and Bitot spots were relatively common among preschool children in Moen, Truk (644). Vitamin A supplementation was begun in Chuuk and Pohnpei in 1993 and 1998, respectively (645). A survey conducted in Kosrae and Yap in 1999 showed that 63.3% and 33.8% had serum vitamin A levels <0.70 pmol/L, respectively (644).
Sudan. In a survey of 3461 children under age 5 yr in the eastern Sudan in 1983, the prevalence of Bitot spots was 9.5% (645). The prevalence of Bitot spots was 3.7% among children in a displaced community around Omdurman during a drought in 1986 (646).
A survey in five districts of northern Darfur in 1988 showed a prevalence of night blindness and Bitot spots of 0.52% and 0.1% among children under 6 yr of age (646). Xerophthalmia was found in 2.9% of children aged 6 to 72 mo of age in five rural areas of Khartoum and Gezira provinces in northern Sudan (647).
Ethiopia. Xerophthalmia has been recognized as a major public health problem in Ethiopia (648-651). In a national survey, conducted in 1980-1981, of 6636 children aged 6 mo to 6 yr, 1% had Bitot spots, and a prevalence of 1.6% was noted in the pastoral zone (652). A survey conducted among 14,740 school children in the Shoa region of central Ethiopia showed that 0.91% had Bitot spots (652). In Agaro in southwest Ethiopia, of 432 children, aged 6-59 mo, 4.2% had night blindness and 2.1% had Bitot spots (654). Night blindness and Bitot spots were found in 17% and 26.5% of children aged 6 mo to 6 yr in the Dodota district in central Ethiopia (655). In a survey conducted among 15,087 children, aged 6-71 mo, in Harari, Tigray, Southern National Nationalities and People Region, and Oromiya, night blindness and Bitot spots were found in 0.97% and 3.6%, respectively (656). In Jimma, southwest Ethiopia, of 628 children, aged 6-59 mo, 0.48% had Bitot spots and 0.16% had corneal scarring (657). Dietary intake of vitamin A among children was extremely low (657). In Arssi zone of Dodotana sire district, 188 preschool children and 214 school-aged children were examined for the presence of xerophthalmia. Night blindness and Bitot spots were found among 7.2% and 2.2% of the children (658).
Eritrea. In a national survey conducted in 2002, of 2131 children, aged 6-59 mo, the prevalence of night blindness and Bitot spots was 0.6% and 6.2%, respectively (659). The prevalence of corneal xerosis was 4.1% (659).
Kenya. Vitamin A deficiency was observed in Kenya as earlier as the 1920s (660) and has been periodically recognized in rural areas (661) and prisons (662). In southwestern Kenya, high household income was associated with a greater household level of dietary vitamin A consumption but not increased dietary vitamin A intake by preschool children (663). In a survey of 6435 children, aged 6-72 mo, in 14 districts of eight provinces in Kenya conducted in 1994, 1% had Bitot spots (664). Vitamin A deficiency as assessed by conjunctival impression cytology was highly prevalent among children aged 4 to 7 yr in two high-risk areas of Kenya (665). A high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency was recently described among lactating women in Kenya based on low breast milk retinol concentration (666).
Uganda. The magnitude and distribution of vitamin A deficiency have not been determined on a national level in Uganda (667). A study conducted in the 1960s suggested that serum vitamin A concentrations were low among adults attending an outpatient clinic of Mulago Hospital in Kampala (668). Xerophthalmia was a major cause of blindness among Sudanese refugees seen in Uganda (669). The Ministry of Health of Uganda adopted a policy of vitamin A capsule distribution in 2001.
Tanzania. A survey was conducted among 12,880 children in Mbeya, Iringa, and Kagera regions in Tanzania from 1983 to 1985 (670). Xerophthalmia tended to cluster in certain villages (670). Inadequate consumption of vitamin A-rich foods was noted among children with Bitot spots in rural Tanzania (670).
Congo. A survey of 415 preschool children in South Kivu province showed that 0.7% had night blindness and 19.7% had serum retinol <0.35 pmol/L (672).
Malawi. Vitamin A deficiency was shown to be a problem of importance in the lower Shire Valley, with xeropthhalmia found among 3.9% of children under the age of 6 yr
(673). In a study of 650 children aged 2-6 yr in Salima and Dedza in 1988, night blindness was found in 1.4% and Bitot spots in 0.2% (674). A national household and school-based micronutrient survey was conducted in 2001 that showed low serum retinol concentrations consistent with vitamin A deficiency among nearly 60% of young children and almost 90% of nonpregnant women (675). Vitamin A deficiency is common among lactating women in Malawi (676,677).
Zimbabwe. A survey of 207 lactating women and their infants in the Makhaza area showed that 40% of the women had serum retinol <0.70 |mol/L and 76% had low liver stores of vitamin A (678). Vitamin A deficiency was described as a public health problem in 1991 in some districts (600).
Zambia. A study of lactating women who were bringing their children to the under five clinic in a shanty town outside of Ndola showed that 38% had serum retinol <1.05 |mol/ L (679). A study of 381 preschool and 814 school-aged children in Ndola district showed that serum retinol <0.35 |mol/L was uncommon except in a shanty town where 22% of children had serum retinol <0.35 |mol/L (680). Vitamin A deficiency was also common among randomly selected children, aged 7-19 mo, attending a pediatric clinic (681). A national survey showed the 65.7% of children under five and 21.5% of women had serum vitamin A levels <0.70 |mol/L, and the rates of night blindness were 6.2% and 11.6%, respectively (682).
Angola. A survey conducted in eight provinces showed that subclinical vitamin A deficiency was common among children under the age of 5 yr (683). High-dose vitamin A capsule distribution was integrated with childhood immunization days in 1999. A hospital-based record review showed that xerophthalmia remained a major cause of blindness among children in Luanda in the early 1990s (684).
Mozambique. In Mozambique, an estimated 2.3 million children under the age of 5 yr are vitamin A-deficient (685). Vitamin A deficiency was identified as a major public health in a survey of four provinces in 1998 (686). The Ministry of Health began vitamin A capsule distribution for preschool children and infants aged 6-12 mo in 1999 initially through national immunization days and through maternal and child health campaigns (687). Vitamin A capsule distribution is now integrated with routine child health services but coverage is about 45% (685).
Botswana. A national survey of micronutrient deficiencies in children and women was conducted in 1994 and showed that 35% of children aged 0-71 mo had serum retinol <0.70 |imol/L (688).
South Africa. A national survey conducted in 1994 showed that vitamin A deficiency is an important public health problem in eight provinces (689). The national policy includes high-dose vitamin A supplementation to children aged 6-60 mo and to all mothers 6-8 wk post delivery and targeted supplementation for children with severe undernutrition, persistent diarrhea, measles, or xeropthalmia (690).
Senegal. A survey conducted among preschool children in the groundnut belt of Senegal in 1991 showed that 0.2% had Bitot spots and 11.4% had abnormal conjunctival impression cytology consistent with vitamin A deficiency (691). A high prevalence of subclinical vitamin A deficiency was described among children aged 24-48 mo in the Louga region (692).
Mali. In 1991, a survey of 207 children, aged 4-7 yr, in western Mali showed that 2% had night blindness but none had Bitot spots (693). A survey of 3032 children aged 1-4 yr in the Djenne and Yelimane districts in 1999 showed that 0.8% and 3.2% had night blindness, respectively, and a high proportion of children had low serum retinol concentrations (694). Since 1998, vitamin A supplementation has been integrated with national immunization days, and additional coverage is provided through regional micronutrient days (695). Two cross-sectional surveys conducted in the Mopti region in 1997 (696) prior to implementation of vitamin A capsule distribution and in 1999, 4 mo after vitamin A capsule distribution, showed that the prevalence of xerophthalmia was lower in 1999 than in 1997 (697).
Mauritania. Vitamin A deficiency has been a public health problem in Mauritania (698), especially after drought seasons (699). Vitamin A deficiency was detected among children attending community health centers using conjunctival impression cytology (700).
Chad. Surveys conducted after a drought in 1984 and after a normal crop in 1985 showed that xerophthalmia was a public health problem (701).
Burkina Faso. Xerophthalmia has been described in Burkina Faso (702,703). Vitamin A deficiency was found to be a public health problem among children aged 6-14 yr in Boulgou province (704).
Niger. Serum vitamin A concentrations were low among children and pregnant and breast-feeding women from refugee camps and nearby villages in the Sahel region (705). A national survey conducted in 1988 showed that 2% of children aged 6-72 mo had night blindness. The prevalence of night blindness was high in Tera, Tillaberi, and Ouallam Provinceds (600). High-dose vitamin A capsule distribution was integrated with national immunization days in 1997 (706).
Ghana. A national program of vitamin A supplementation originally distributed vitamin A capsules on National Immunization Days, and the program was expanded in 2000 to provide at least two capsules a year to preschool children (707).
Benin. A small hospital-based study showed that a high proportion of malnourished children had abnormal impression cytology consistent with vitamin A deficiency (708). Vitamin A deficiency is considered to be more prevalent in areas in the northern part of the country (600).
Cameroon. Among 135 children, aged 3-15 yr, in northern Cameroon, mean serum retinol concentrations were 0.47 pmol/L (709). In the Central Province (forested zone) of Cameroon, 85% of 231 children, aged 6-15 yr, had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 pmol/L (710).
Algeria. Plasma vitamin A concentrations in volunteers from schools, blood donor centers, and among hospital staff in Algeria were lower than values reported in Europe (711).
Morocco. A national survey for vitamin A deficiency in 1996 showed a low prevalence of xerophthalmia but a high proportion of children with low serum retinol concentrations (712). A study of 1453 children and 1004 women from different areas of Morocco showed that subclinical vitamin A deficiency was widespread (713). In a survey from northwest Morocco, a large proportion of children aged 6-59 mo had an inadequate intake of vitamin A (714).
Tunisia. Early case reports suggested that vitamin A deficiency was present in Tunisia (715), but vitamin A deficiency has not recently been identified as a public health problem in this country.
Egypt. Early investigations of vitamin A deficiency in Egypt were focused on serum retinol concentrations in infants with marasmus (716) and intestinal parasites (717).
A national nutrition survey conducted in 1978 showed 4 of nearly 10,000 preschool children had Bitot spots (718). In 1995, a national survey involving 1629 children, aged 6-71 mo, in 5 of the 26 governates of Egypt showed that 11.3% of the children had plasma retinol concentrations 0.35-0.70 |mol/L and 0.6% had plasma retinol <0.35 |mol/L (718). The prevalence of xerophthalmia was assessed among 10,664 children in the Beheira governate in 1996. The prevalence of Bitot spots ranged from 0.09% to 0.21% among children under 72 mo of age (718). In Atries, a traditional rural village north of Giza, 94% of 47 preschool children had serum retinol <0.70 |mol/L and 65.9% had serum retinol <0.35 |mol/L (719). Periodic high-dose vitamin A supplementation was evaluated as early as 1982 among school-aged children in Cairo (720). Consumption of vitamin A-rich plant foods was also found to increase serum retinol concentrations (721).
Jordan. Early investigations showed that blinding xerophthalmia was a major problem in Jordan in the 1960s (722), and the prevalence of xeropthalmia decreased by 1975 (600). Surveys in poor areas of Jordan show that vitamin A deficiency is still a public health problem. A high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency was described among urbanized, Bedouin children (723).
Iran. A survey conducted in four provinces in Iran among preschool and school-aged children showed that Bitot spots occurred among children in Beshagard, a remote, impoverished area (724). A survey of1173 children, aged 24-72 mo, in Sistan and Baloochestan provinces in southeast Iran showed that inadequate dietary intake of vitamin A was common and that 0.6% of children had night blindness (725).
Yemen. A survey conducted in 1992 among 2438 children, aged 1-5 yr, in western Yemen showed that night blindness was present in 0.5%, Bitot spots in 1.7%, corneal ulceration in 0.04%, and corneal scarring in 0.04% (726).
Djibouti. A countrywide survey of the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency was conducted in 1988 (727). The prevalence of night blindness and Bitot spots among children under 6 yr of age in rural areas was 0.26% and 1.04%, respectively (727).
Mexico. A survey conducted in 1993 of 489 preschool children showed that 4.8% of urban and 29.5% of rural children had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 |mol/L (728).
Guatemala. A national survey conducted in 1995 of 1517 children, aged 12-59 mo, showed that 15.8% had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 |mol/L (728). In a survey conducted in five rural hamlets in the region of Alta Verapaz, serum retinol concentrations were measured in 502 children aged 6-78 mo. Twenty-two percent of boys and 18% of girls had serum retinol <0.7 |mol/L (729).
El Salvador. In a country-wide prevalence survey conducted in 1973, of 9508 children aged 1-6 yr, the prevalence of Bitot spots was 0.053% (730). A survey in 1988 of 720 children under the age of 5 yr showed that 36.0% had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 |mol/L (728).
Honduras. In a national survey conducted in 1996 of 1572 children, aged 12-59 mo, 13.6% had serum retinol <0.70 |mol/L (728).
Nicaragua. A national micronutrient survey in 1993 showed that 31.3% of children aged 12-59 mo had serum retinol <0.70 |mol/L (731). The Nicaraguan government began high-dose vitamin A capsule distribution in 1994 through national immunization days.
Panama. A survey conducted in Panama in 1992 of 1566 preschool children showed that 6.1% had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 |mol/L (728).
Colombia. The 1977-1980 National Health Survey in Colombia showed that among children under 5 yr of age, 24.1% had serum retinol <0.70 |mol/L (732). In a national survey conducted in 1995, of 2187 children aged 12-59 mo, 13.6% had serum retinol <0.70 |imol/L (728).
Venezuela. A survey conducted in urban and rural slums in and around Maracaibo showed that more than one-fifth of children aged 24-85 mo had serum retinol <0.70 |mol/L (733), and some clustering was noted between vitamin A deficiency and anemia (734). A survey of children aged 2-14 yr in a low-income community of Valencia showed that 0.7% had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 |mol/L and 0.6% were at high risk of vitamin A deficiency by dietary assessment (735).
Ecuador. In the 1985 National Nutrition and Health Survey in Ecuador, 13.9% of children in rural areas and 11.9% of children in urban areas had serum retinol <0.70 |mol/L (736). In 1993, a survey conducted by the Health Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Health of Ecuador in five provinces showed that of 1232 children, aged 12-59 mo, 18% and 2% had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 and 0.35 |mol/L, respectively (736). The prevalence of low serum retinol concentrations was higher in the 1993 survey compared to the 1985 survey, however, the most recent survey was designed to assess vitamin A deficiency in the more impoverished provinces of Ecuador.
Peru. A survey of 362 preschool children in Piura and 220 preschool children in Puno showed that 32.8% and 14.1% had serum retinol concentrations <0.70 |mol/L, respectively (728).
Bolivia. In the Andean Subregion, of 891 children, aged 12-71 mo, 11.3% had serum retinol <0.70 |mol/L (728). A high prevalence of subclinical vitamin A deficiency has been reported among young children and women of childbearing age in Bolivia (737).
Brazil. Clinical vitamin A deficiency has been most commonly described in northeast Brazil, the poorest and least developed region of the country. As noted in the historical section of this chapter, many important early observations on xerophthalmia were made in Brazil in the 19th century (3,24). In the Sertao region of northeast Brazil in 1981-1982, 1.9% of preschool children had Bitot spots in the period between harvests (738). In the Jequitinhonha valley in Minas Gerais in the early 1980s, 8.9% of preschool children had serum retinol <0.35 |mol/L (739). A survey was conducted in 1998 in Sergipe State in northeastern Brazil involving 607 children aged 6-60 mo, and 9.6% had serum vitamin A levels <0.35 |imol/L (740).
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