News

Vitamin A deficiency is common among children under five

August 31, 2011

A new study from the UK shows that increasing vitamin A in the diet of millions of children could lead to an increase in life expectancy in various countries around the world.

The meta-analysis included 43 randomized trials involving a total of 215,633 children aged from 6 months to 5 years and compared rates of illness and death among those who received vitamin A supplements and those who did not (1). The study results showed that mortality was reduced by 24 percent if children were given vitamin A.

The researchers commented that vitamin A supplements could potentially reduce the rates of measles and diarrhea by boosting immune systems in children. Taking into consideration current trends, they estimated that if the 190 million children who are vitamin A deficient globally received adequate vitamin supplements, it could potentially save more than 600,000 lives each year.

Unfortunately, the vitamin supplement programs available are unable to reach all the children who would benefit from a vitamin supplement. According to the World Health Organization, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children of emerging countries and increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections.

References

  1. Mayo-Wilson E. et al. Vitamin A supplements for preventing mortality, illness, and blindness in children aged under 5: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. Online publication August 2011.