Vitamin A deficiency and xerophthalmia among school-aged children in Southeastern Asia

V. Singh, K. P. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine provisional estimates of the extent of vitamin A (VA) deficiency and xerophthalmia among school-aged children. Design: Literature search of published, unpublished and website-based population survey and study reports, with country-specific imputation of prevalence rates and numbers of children affected by: (1) VA deficiency based on measured or imputed distributions of serum retinol concentration <0.70 μmol/l (equivalent to <20 μg/dl) and (2) xerophthalmia, by country. Setting: Countries within the WHO South-East Asian Region. Subjects: The target group for estimation was children 5-15 y of age. Interventions: None. Results: The estimated prevalence of VA deficiency is 23.4%, suggesting that there are ∼83 million VA-deficient school-aged children in the region, of whom 10.9% (9 million, at an overall prevalence of 2.6%) have mild xerophthalmia (night blindness or Bitot's spot). Potentially blinding corneal xerophthalmia appears to be negligible at this age. Conclusions: VA deficiency, including mild xerophthalmia, appears to affect large numbers of school-aged children in South-East Asia. However, nationally representative data on the prevalence, risk factors and health consequences of VA deficiency among school-aged children are lacking within the region and globally, representing a future public health research priority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1342-1349
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Bitot's spots
  • Night blindness
  • School-aged children
  • South-East Asia
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Xerophthalmia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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