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Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia

Print version ISSN 1415-790X


PEREIRA, Joilane Alves et al. Serum concentrations of retinol and beta-carotene, and nutritional status of children in Teresina, Piauí, Brazil. Rev. bras. epidemiol. [online]. 2008, vol.11, n.2, pp.287-296. ISSN 1415-790X.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate serum concentrations of retinol and beta-carotene of children in Teresina, Piauí, Brazil, and to evaluate their anthropometric profile and consumption of food sources of vitamin A. METHODS: Cross-sectional study of 135 children from 36 to 83 months of age who attended a public child day care center. Nutritional status was evaluated by: biochemical (serum concentrations of retinol and beta-carotene), anthropometric (weight for height - W/H and height for age - H/A indexes), and dietary (frequency of consumption of food sources of vitamin A) methods. RESULTS: The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) was 8.9% (95%CI: 4.7-15.0%). An association between previous supplementation with vitamin A and serum concentrations of retinol was observed, with a higher proportion of children with normal concentrations of retinol among those supplemented (p=0.025). There was a weak to moderate statistically significant correlation between the concentrations of retinol and beta-carotene, (p<0.021). The prevalence of low W/H and low H/A was respectively 1.9% (95%CI: 0.2-6.8%) and 9.7% (95%CI: 4.8-17.1%). The dietary evaluation showed low consumption of foods rich in vitamin A. CONCLUSIONS: The high prevalence of VAD combined to the prevalence of children with acceptable concentrations of retinol, low median concentrations of beta-carotene, low H/A, and inadequate ingestion of foods rich in vitamin A, reinforce the need to improve health and nutrition education in this population. Based on these results, we recommend the ingestion of foods rich in vitamin A, as an important policy to deal with this nutritional problem. Efforts are also necessary to maintain food fortification and supplementation Programs.

Keywords : Vitamin A; Beta-Carotene; Preschool children; Nutritional Status.

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