Vitamin A deficiency is a major cause of morbidity, mortality and blindness amongchildren. Although vitamin A deficiency is known to affect many children in developing countries, the magnitude of the problem in the South Pacific region is unclear. Methods: Five cross-sectional surveys for vitamin A deficiency were conducted between 1989 and 1992 in the Republic of Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Republic of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands. Results: In total, 10673 children between the ages of 6 and 72 months were examined for clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency (nightblindness and xerophthalmia). The prevalence of xerophthalmia was 14.76% in the Republic of Kiribati, 1.55% in Solomon Islands, 0.59% in the Cook Islands, 0.28% in Tuvalu, and 0.11% in Vanuatu. The most common clinical findings were Bitot's spots followed by nightblindness. Xerophthalmia was more common among boys (Kiribati P<0.001, Solomon Islands P=0.03) and tended to occur in older preschool children (P<0.0001). Conclusions: These studies suggest that vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem in the Republic of Kiribati and Solomon Islands.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health