JOURNAL ARTICLE

Vitamin A deficiency in poor, urban, lactating women in Bangladesh: factors influencing vitamin A status

Faruk Ahmed, Asfia Azim, Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman
Public Health Nutrition 2003, 6 (5): 447-52
12943560

AIMS: To investigate the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among lactating women in a poor urban population of Bangladesh, and to examine the relationship between various factors and vitamin A status.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Maternal and child health clinic in Dhaka City, Bangladesh.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: A total of 120 lactating women aged 17-37 years were randomly selected from women who attended a local maternal and child health clinic in Dhaka City for immunisation of their children. Various socio-economic, personal characteristics, dietary intakes of vitamin A and anthropometric data were collected. Serum retinol (vitamin A) concentration was determined as a measure of vitamin A status.

RESULTS: Of the subjects, 37% had low serum vitamin A levels (<30 microg x dl-1), with 13.3% having sub-clinical vitamin A deficiency (<20 microg x dl-1). Eighty-seven per cent had vitamin A intakes below the recommended dietary allowance. The lactating women who were either illiterate or received only informal education had significantly lower serum vitamin A levels compared with those who received formal education. The women whose husbands received formal education had significantly higher serum vitamin A levels than those whose husbands were either illiterate or received only informal education. The serum vitamin A levels of women in households with poor sanitation/latrine practice were significantly lower than those of women in households with good sanitation/latrine practice. The women with one child had significantly lower serum vitamin A levels than those with two or more children. Women with a lactation period of 6 months or more had significantly lower serum vitamin A levels than women with a lactation period of less than 6 months. The women who consumed less than the median vitamin A intake (274.8 microg day-1) had significantly lower serum vitamin A levels than those who consumed more than the median vitamin A intake. By multiple regression analysis, education level of the women, number of living children, duration of lactation and dietary intake of vitamin A were found to have significant independent relationships with serum vitamin A. The overall F-ratio (6.8) was highly significant the adjusted R2 was 0.16 (multiple ).

CONCLUSION: A significant proportion of poor, urban, lactating women in Bangladesh have vitamin A deficiency. Among the various factors, education level of the women, number of living children, duration of lactation and dietary intake of vitamin A appear to be important in influencing the vitamin A status of these women.

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