Jornal de Pediatria
Print version ISSN 0021-7557
GRAEBNER, Ivete T.; SAITO, Carlos H. and SOUZA, Elizabeth M. T. de. Biochemical assessment of vitamin A in schoolchildren from a rural community. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2007, vol.83, n.3, pp. 247-252. ISSN 0021-7557. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0021-75572007000400010.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among schoolchildren from a rural area in the Distrito Federal, Brazil, and to correlate this with rates of anemia and malnutrition. METHODS: From a total of 179 students, the study recruited 155 schoolchildren (5 to 18 years), whose parents gave permission for blood tests. Plasma retinol concentration was assayed by high resolution liquid chromatography, and levels of plasma vitamin A lower than 20 µg/dL were defined as abnormal or deficient in vitamin A. Hemoglobin was measured by an automated cell counter, and anemia was defined as serum concentrations of less than 11.5 and 12.0 g/dL for children and adolescents, respectively. Nutritional status was assessed using z scores for weight/height, height/age and body mass index percentiles. RESULTS: The results indicated that 33.55% of the schoolchildren tested had a vitamin A deficiency, with a prevalence of 35.44% among children (5-9 years) and 31.58% among adolescents (10-18 years). No correlation was observed between the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency and prevalence rates of anemia or malnutrition. Both sexes and all ages were homogeneous for vitamin A deficiency. CONCLUSIONS: The elevated prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among the children and adolescents attending this rural school identify a public health problem in the region. These results indicate that age groups from 5 years onwards should be included in those at risk of hypovitaminosis A and that they should be included in public policies aimed at combating hypovitaminosis A.
Keywords : Vitamin A; retinol; vitamin A deficiency; schoolchildren; hypovitaminosis A.