Vitamin A: The Unseen Threat to Children’s Health

Vitamin A deficiency, a common issue in developing countries, can lead to night blindness, increased risk of infections, and even death in children, but it can be prevented through proper nutrition and supplementation

1 min read

Hello, my village people! It’s Dr. Okenye, your village doctor. I have come again! Vitamin A is another very important nutrient you need to know about. It is still common in developing countries, especially in Africa and South-East Asia, affecting around approximately 1 in 4 children.

Signs and Symptoms
One of the first signs of Vitamin A deficiency is night blindness. Eventually, it can damage some of the eye structures, including the retina and cornea. What is equally horrible about this vitamin deficiency is that it diminishes your ability to fight infections, and in children, it increases the risk of respiratory and diarrheal infections. It can also decrease growth rate and slow bone development.

You can also read Okenye’s post on “The Importance of Vitamin C: A Vital Nutrient for Overall Health” and The Sunshine Vitamin: Why You Need Vitamin D and How to Get It

In fact, according to the WHO, half of children who are Vitamin A deficient die within 12 months of losing their sight. This would make sense, especially if they have more respiratory and diarrhea infections in resource-poor areas.

Prevention and Treatment
Thankfully, supplementation has been incorporated into the immunization schedule in some countries. If you want to further decrease the risk of deficiency, eat green leafy vegetables and fruits, liver, whole milk, eggs, and red palm oil. Please note that cassava, also called Akpu in some areas, is deficient in Vitamin A, so don’t feed that to the kids.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any new medication or treatment. This publication and aurthors does not endorse or recommend any specific medication and is not liable for any adverse effects from the use of this information. You can learn more about Dr. Okenye.

Emmanuel Okenye

Dr. Emmanuel Okenye, DO is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences/College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. He is ABIM board-certified and practices both outpatient at Evergreen Family Medicine and inpatient at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Oregon.

Leave a Reply