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Objective: To determine the frequency of Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and associated clinical features in children of age group 6 months to 72 months in order to plan comprehensive eye care program.
Material and Methods: It was a non- interventional, cross- sectional study based on 2373 children aged between 6 months to 72 months, attending the Eye OPD from 1st April 2005 to 1st April 2006. Xerophthalmia was diagnosed on the basis of ocular signs and symptoms set by WHO. Dietary intake of Vitamin A was assessed and correlation of vitamin A deficiency with various risk factors was evaluated.
Results: Out of 2373 children, 94 (4 %) children were suffering from VAD. Out of 94 children, 37 (39.4%) had Bitot spots, 27 (28.7 %) had signs of corneal Xerosis/ Ulceration/ Keratomalacia while 24/94 (25.5 %) had a history of night blindness. Thirty one (33%) children belonged to age group 61-72 months. Diarrhoea was the most frequent preceding illness in 33(35 %). Most of the children (80/94; 85%)
belonged to poor socio economic class.
Conclusion: Vitamin A deficiency is not uncommon in children attending eye OPD. Most of them had already developed corneal involvement. Majority are under the age of 3 years; belonging to poor families,
with poor dietary intake of vitamin A and with history of preceding illnesses like diarrhea etc. Community based studies are needed to assess the real burden of VAD and to plan for the major preventive strategies.
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