Risk Factors for Vitamin A Deficiency among Preschool Aged Children in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia


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Abstract

In 1993, the Department of Health of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) conducted a population-based stratified random survey among 355 children aged 24–48 months in Pohnpei, one of the four FSM States. The objective was to determine the prevalence, and explore risk factors for vitamin A deficiency (VAD). Trained field workers collected data from a range of demographic, dietary and socioeconomic variables related to the children. The serum retinol concentration was 19.4 ± 7.5 μg/dl (mean ± SD), and the VAD prevalence (serum retinol <20 μg/dl) 53.1 per cent. The significant independent risk factors, determined by logistic regression, were: mother's work at home, sibling <2 years older, rural household located on the main island, early weaning, and child anemia, controlling for pipe water and electricity in the household. If compared with a reference of apparently healthy children of similar age in the USA, the distribution of serum retinol among young Pohnpei children was shifted entirely to low levels.We conclude that eliminating the pervasive VAD problem in Pohnpei would require a multi-pronged tactical approach that combines dietary improvement strategies with the ongoing supplementation effort.

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