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Open Access Safety and impact of vitamin A supplementation delivered with oral polio vaccine as part of the immunization campaign in Orissa, India

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A study was carried out in Orissa, India, to evaluate the impact on vitamin A status of vitamin A supplementation integrated with an immunization campaign. Data were collected from a representative sample of 1,811 children, aged 12 to 48 months, at baseline and then at 4 and 16 weeks following implementation of vitamin A supplementation. The primary outcome indicator was serum retinol. The coverage of vitamin A supplementation was 97%. There was a significant decline in the prevalence of Bitot's spots from 2.9% to 1.9% at 4 weeks, but the prevalence increased to 3.6% by 16 weeks. Serum retinol concentrations increased between baseline and 4 weeks (from 0.62 ± 0.32 to 0.73 ± 0.23 μmol/L, p < .001) but then decreased to 0.50 ± 0.19 μmol/l at 16 weeks, which was significantly lower than at baseline (p < .001). The greatest increase in serum retinol from baseline to 4-week follow-up was among children with lowest baseline serum retinol and children with Bitot's spots at baseline. This study demonstrates the short-term benefits of vitamin A supplementation to be significant, especially for those whose status is most compromised. At the same time, the benefit of vitamin A supplementation in this population was transient. The impact of the vitamin A could not be sustained for the full 16 weeks in the study population. This finding calls for exploration of other means to improve vitamin A status, perhaps by adjusting the vitamin A supplementation schedule with more aggressive measures to improve intake of foods rich in bioavailable vitamin A, such as small amounts of animal foods or fortified foods. The study demonstrates the feasibility of integrating vitamin A supplementation with immunization campaigns.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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