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Determinants of vitamin a deficiency amongst children in Aligarh district, Uttar Pradesh



To determine the prevalence and determinants of xerophthalmia among children aged 0–60 months.


This cross-sectional study included 3571 children under 5 years of age from six villages and four periurban areas. Children with xerophthalmia were identified and severity graded using the WHO classification. The main outcome measures were sociodemographic, nutritional and comorbidity related risk factors of xerophthalmia. A pretested questionnaire carrying information on the above factors was administered to the caregivers. Univariate and multivariate binary logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the association of each of these factors with xerophthalmia.


The overall prevalence of xerophthalmia was of serious public health importance at 9.1%. Prevalence of both mild (night blindness, and Bitot’s spots) and severe forms (corneal changes) of xerophthalmia increased with age. Bitot’s spots and night blindness were the commonest manifestations. Rural dwelling, lower social class, maternal illiteracy and occupation outside home were significant antecedent socio-demographic risk factors on univariate analysis. Multivariate analysis revealed low intake of proteins and vitamin A containing foods as well as predominant maize diet to be significant dietary factors. Nutritional wasting and a preceding history of measles were significant comorbid determinants (P<0.05). None of the socio-demographic variables emerged significant on multivariate analysis.


Vitamin A deficiency remains a significant public health problem in Aligarh district. The proximal factors in a child’s mileu viz nutrition and comorbidities were more significantly associated with xerophthalmia than the distal socio-demographic factors, thereby making a case for their cost effective prevention. The high magnitude of the problem calls for intensification of existing prophylactic measures in these areas.

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Correspondence to Sandeep Sachdeva.

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Sachdeva, S., Alam, S., Beig, F.K. et al. Determinants of vitamin a deficiency amongst children in Aligarh district, Uttar Pradesh. Indian Pediatr 48, 861–866 (2011).

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Key words

  • Determinants
  • Deficiency
  • India
  • Prevalence
  • Vitamin A