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Title Epidemiological and clinical studies of vitamin A in Black South African pre-school children.
Publication Date
Date Available
Date Accessioned
Degree PhD
Discipline/Department Paediatrics and child health
Degree Level doctoral
University/Publisher University of KwaZulu-Natal
Abstract The ocular complications of vitamin A deficiency have been known for many years, however, recent studies have suggested that marginal vitamin A status enlarges the risk of common childhood infections and increases mortality. It is therefore important to assess the vitamin A status, and some of its consequences, in children who are most likely to be at risk for vitamin A deficiency as this has important implications for promoting the health of children and for formulating appropriate primary health care policies. In South Africa very little data is available on vitamin A nutrition of communities; therefore one of the objectives of this research programme was to document the vitamin A status of African children who, because of historical inequities, are most likely to be at risk for deficiency. Sound, epidemiologically based surveys of vitamin A intake and body levels were conducted in a typical established township (using dietary intake as the measuring tool) and in a typical peri-urban informal settlement (using serum retinol and conjunctival impression cytology as the measuring tools). These studies revealed that the majority (97%) of children living in the established township surveyed had an adequate intake of vitamin A, whereas 44% of the children in the informal settlement had low serum retinol levels (20 ug/dL), and 18% had insufficient vitamin A, as assessed by 2 abnormal disc specimens, using the conjunctival impression cytology test. In order to investigate the interrelationsnips between vitamin A, other micronutrients and some risk factors, an analysis was undertaken of anthropometry, parasite infestation and blood concentrations of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, albumin, haemaglobin, serum iron and ferritin and percent transferrin saturation. Significant positive correlations were found between serum retinol and all the biochemical indicators of iron metabolism studied except for serum ferritin. Ninety one percent of the children sampled were infested with parasites. These results highlight the fact that in this population close interconnections exist among nutrients and suggest that attempts at correcting vitamin A deficiency in such communities should be based on comprehensive intervention programmes rather than on single nutrient replacement. The impact of infections on blood levels of vitamin A was investigated in African children with severe measles. In addition, substances related to vitamin A metabolism such as other micronutrients (zinc, vitamin E) and proteins (retinol binding protein, prealbumin, albumin) were measured in serum. In addition the changes induced in these substances by vitamin A supplementation (offered in a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial) were studied. Serum retinol as well as the other nutrients measured were significantly reduced early in the exanthem in measles patients as compared to healthy controls. Vitamin A and prealbumin levels on day 8 (of the intervention trial) were significantly increased in the supplemented group compared to the…
Subjects/Keywords Paediatrics and child health.
Language en
Country of Publication za
Record ID handle:10413/7451
Repository ukzn
Date Indexed 2015-05-18
Created Date 1993-01-01 00:00:00
Issued Date 1993-01-01 00:00:00
Note Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1993.