Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency is not common in the United States. However, up to half a million children become blind each year as a consequence of it. A deficiency of this vitamin can occur from inadequate dietary intake or the malabsorption of fat. States of illnesses that may cause malabsorption of fat, very low fat diets or certain medications can have an impact on vitamin A status. Chronic exposure to oxidants like cigarette smoke can also affect the absorption of vitamin A.

Problems with vision may result from a deficiency of vitamin A. It may result in the inability to correct vision when going from a lighted room to a dark room; or, more importantly, from a lighted home onto the road when driving at night. If it goes on it can cause nigh-blindness.

It is also a cause of dry eyes and inflammation. There is also a condition known as Bitot’s spots, which are superficial white or grey patches occurring on eye membrane due to deficiency in vitamin A. Children are more likely to lack vitamin A in developing countries, and Bitot’s spots are one of the first things doctors can assess to see whether or not a child is lacking vitamin A.

A deficiency of vitamin A contributes to the high prevalence of measles seen in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, 100 to 140 million children suffer from a vitamin A deficiency. This deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness in children worldwide. Deficiencies are really rare in America, mostly common in immigrants from foreign countries.

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