Evidence of grave vitamin A deficiency among lactating women in the semi-arid rural area of Makhaza in Zimbabwe. A population-based study.Eur J Clin Nutr. 2001 Apr; 55(4):229-34.EJ
To assess the vitamin A and iron status of lactating women.
A population-based cross-sectional descriptive study.
A semi-arid rural area of Makhaza in Zimbabwe.
Two hundred and seven lactating women with babies aged 2-12 months.
Serum retinol (SR) was measured by HPLC, serum ferritin (SF) by ELIZA, haemoglobin (Hb) by HemoCue and C-reactive protein (CRP) by a turbo metric method. A seven-day recall of consumption of vitamin A containing foods was recorded.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Relative dose response (RDR), SR, SF, Hb and CRP.
Dark green leafy vegetables were the main sources of vitamin A; retinol-containing foods and yellow to red fruits and vegetables were rarely consumed. Five women had elevated CRP and these women had lower SR (P < 0.001) than the rest. Forty percent of the women had vitamin A deficiency (SR < 20 microg/dl), 76% had low liver stores of vitamin A (RDR > 20%) while 15 women had both abnormal SR and abnormal RDR. Forty percent had anaemia (Hb < 12 g/l) while 12% had iron deficiency (SF < 12 microg/dl) and 4% (n = 7) had iron deficiency anaemia.
Vitamin A and iron deficiencies are problems of public health significance among the lactating women in the Makhaza area.