• Journal Article

Vitamin A deficiency in the South Pacific

Citation

Schaumberg, D. A., Linehan, M., Hawley, G., O'Connor, J., Dreyfuss, M., & Semba, R. D. (1995). Vitamin A deficiency in the South Pacific. Public Health, 109(5), 311-317.

Abstract

Vitamin A deficiency is a major cause of morbidity, mortality and blindness among children. Although vitamin A deficiency is known to affect many children in developing countries, the magnitude of the problem in the South Pacific region is unclear. METHODS: Five cross-sectional surveys for vitamin A deficiency were conducted between 1989 and 1992 in the Republic of Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Republic of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands. RESULTS: In total, 10,673 children between the ages of 6 and 72 months were examined for clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency (nightblindness and xerophthalmia). The prevalence of xerophthalmia was 14.76% in the Republic of Kiribati, 1.55% in Solomon Islands, 0.59% in the Cook Islands, 0.28% in Tuvalu, and 0.11% in Vanuatu. The most common clinical findings were Bitot's spots followed by nightblindness. Xerophthalmia were more common among boys (Kiribati P < 0.001, Solomon Islands P = 0.03) and tended to occur in older preschool children (P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: These studies suggest that vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem in the Republic of Kiribati and Solomon Islands. PIP: Vitamin A deficiency is a major cause of morbidity, mortality, and blindness among children in many developing countries. Until recently, however, data have been lacking on the magnitude of the problem in the South Pacific region. Five cross-sectional surveys for vitamin A deficiency were conducted during 1989-1992 in the Republic of Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Republic of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and the Cook Islands, covering 10,673 children aged 6-72 months. The prevalence of xerophthalmia was 14.76% in the Republic of Kiribati, 1.55% in Solomon Islands, 0.59% in the Cook Islands, 0.28% in Tuvalu, and 0.11% in the Republic of Vanuatu. Bitot's spots were the most common clinical findings followed by nightblindness. Xerophthalmia was more common among boys and tended to occur in older preschool children.