Prevalence of Vitamin A Deficiency among Preschool Children in Ethiopia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Zekariyas Sahile, Delelegn Yilma, Robel Tezera, Tadu Bezu, Werissaw Haileselassie, Benyam Seifu, Jemal Haidar Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Background. Vitamin A deficiency is a major nutritional concern in lower-income countries. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to show the magnitude of vitamin A deficiency among preschoolers in Ethiopia. Objective. The present study was aimed at synthesizing qualitatively and quantitatively the existing literature on the prevalence of VAD in preschool children in Ethiopia. Methods. Studies were searched through the search engine of Google Scholar, Hinari, MEDLINE/PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Africa-Wide Information. Searching was made using the keywords/MeSH of vitamin A deficiency, xerophthalmia, night blindness, Bitot's spot, retinol, children, and Ethiopia. Data were analyzed and compared with the WHO threshold criteria to declare a public health problem. Heterogeneity among studies was assessed using a Cochran Q test and I2 statistics. A random-effects model with 95% confidence interval was used for prevalence estimations. Results. Of the 13 studies included in clinical analysis, 12 of them reported the prevalence of night blindness and/or Bitot's spot among preschool children in Ethiopia which was above WHO cutoff point for the public health problem 1% and 0.5%, respectively. The prevalence of night blindness significantly decreased from moderate public health problem 4.2% (95% CI: 2.8%-5.7%) in a period from 1990 to 2004 to mild public health problem 0.8% (95% CI: 0.6%-1.0%) in a period from 2005 to 2019. Furthermore, statistically insignificant reduction was observed in the prevalence of Bitot's spot in a period from 1990 to 2004, 2.2% (95% CI: 1.3%-3.2%) to 1.8% (95% CI: 1.2%-2.3%) in a period from 2005 to 2019. Among 8 studies on subclinical vitamin A deficiency, 7 of them indicated a severe public health problem (>20%). The prevalence of subclinical vitamin A deficiency decreased from 55.7% (95% CI: 39.8%-71.6%) in a period from 1990 to 2004 to 28.3% (95% CI: 9.8%-46.7%) in a period from 2005 to 2019, but not statistically significant. Conclusions. Despite the reduced proportion of night blindness and Bitot's spot, still both clinical and subclinical vitamin A deficiencies remain a public health problem in Ethiopia requiring strengthen intervention through the newly initiated health extension program.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8032894
Number of pages12
JournalBioMed Research International
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Diet
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Ethiopia
  • Pre-school children
  • Health Impacts


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