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The Role of Expanded Coverage of the National Vitamin A Program in Preventing Morbidity and Mortality among Preschool Children in India.
Authors: Richard D. Semba, Saskia de Pee, Kai Sun, Martin W. Bloem, V. K. Raju
Source: Journal of Nutrition, vol. 140 no. 1 208S-212S
Topic(s): Childhood mortality
Morbidity
Vitamin A
Country: Asia
  India
Published: JAN 2010
Abstract: Abstract Higher food prices increase the risk of vitamin A deficiency among preschool children in poor families, because a larger part of the household food budget is spent on grain foods and less on vitamin A-rich foods. Vitamin A supplementation is an important source of vitamin A for children. Our objective was to characterize coverage of the India national vitamin A program for preschool children and identify risk factors for not receiving vitamin A. Anthropometric and demographic data were examined in 23,008 children aged 12–59 mo in the India National Family Health Survey, 2005–2006. Within the last 6 mo, 20.2% of children received vitamin A supplementation. The prevalence of stunting, severe stunting, underweight, and severe underweight was higher among children who did not receive vitamin A compared with those who received vitamin A (P < 0.0001). In families with a child who did and did not receive vitamin A, respectively, the proportion with a history of under-5 child mortality was 8.4 vs. 11.4% (P < 0.0001). By state, vitamin A program coverage was inversely proportional to the under-5 child mortality rate (r = -0.51; P = 0.004). Maternal education of =10 y [odds ratio (OR) 2.22; 95% CI 1.69–2.91], 7–9 y (OR 1.99; 95% CI 1.57–2.53), or 1–6 y (OR 1.65; 95% CI 1.28–2.13) compared with no education was an important factor related to receipt of vitamin A. Poor coverage of the vitamin A supplementation program in India has serious implications in the face of rising food prices. Expanded coverage of the vitamin A program in India will help protect children from morbidity, mortality, and blindness.