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Prevalence and determinants of xerophthalmia in rural children

Vijender K Agrawal, Pooja Agrawal.

Abstract
Background: Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is recognized as a major cause of blindness among children in India.

Aims & Objective: The study was planned to find out prevalence Of VAD in rural children.

Material and Methods: This cross sectional study was undertaken amongst children (0-15 years) in a rural area selected by simple random sampling out of villages under a Primary Health Centre. Out of 844 children 802 participated in study. WHO classification of xerophthalmia was adopted in study to find out prevalence.

Results: Overall prevalence of xerophthalmia was 5.4 %. Only the milder manifestations of xerophthalmia viz. night blindness and Bitot’s spots were observed. Not a single case of active corneal involvement was seen. Prevalence of Bitot’s spots was 0.9 % in children under 6 years of age and 3.3 % in children above 6 years of age. Prevalence of xerophthalmia was significantly more in older children. Higher prevalence (Not significant) was observed in males, lower socioeconomic status as well as in large family. Overall prevalence of anaemia was found 11.8 % in study population. Significantly high prevalence of xerophthalmia (Odds ratio 5.7) was observed in children suffering from anaemia.

Conclusion: Presence of milder manifestation of xerophthalmia and 0.9 % prevalence of Bitot’s spots in children under 6 years of age in present study shows declining trend of VAD (but still a public health problem since prevalence is more than 0.5 %) and 3.3 % prevalence in children above 6 years of age shows that apart from strengthening of Vitamin A prophylaxis programme to increase coverage, health education is needed for dietary diversification to include vegetables and fruits in the diet for long-term sustainability in improving vitamin A status of children of all age group.

Key words: Prevalence, Rural children, Xerophthalmia.



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