Frequency and determinants of vitamin A deficiency in children under 5 years of age with pneumonia

Arch Med Res. Mar-Apr 2002;33(2):180-5. doi: 10.1016/s0188-4409(01)00361-7.


Background: Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) has been closely related to acute respiratory infections (ARI), although information is still incomplete; for example, the frequency of VAD in children <5 years of age with pneumonia is not known, and the conditions associated with VAD have not been identified. This study was conducted to gain insight into the status of vitamin A in children with pneumonia. A secondary objective was to identify the sociodemographic, individual, and nutritional factors associated with VAD in these children.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, one of the poorest in the country. Children with community-acquired pneumonia treated at nine public hospitals were included. Information was obtained by interviewing mothers, and ascertainment of vitamin A status was performed with relative-dose-response (RDR) test.

Results: A total of 422 cases were included. VAD was identified in 17.8% of children; 50.3% showed normal results, 24.6% had liver reserve depletion, and 7.3% showed results attributable to the infectious process. Variables associated with VAD were as follows: age <2 months (OR 3.44, 95% CI: 1.84-9.24); children >6 months of age fed with formula (OR 0.37, 95% CI: 0.15-0.91), and affiliation with the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) health system (OR 0.40, 95% CI: 0.22-0.72).

Conclusions: The frequency of VAD in children with community-acquired pneumonia confirms that the problem of deficiency persists in Mexico. The associated factors for VAD found in this study can be taken into account when planning and evaluating vitamin A supplementation activities in populations with high risk for deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Pneumonia / complications*
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A / blood
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / epidemiology*


  • Vitamin A