Hypovitaminosis A

Last revised by Rohit Sharma on 25 Jan 2023

Hypovitaminosis A results from inadequate intake of vitamin A, fat malabsorption, or liver disorders and produces a variety of epithelial alterations.

The World Health Organizatiοn currently estimates that 45-122 countries have a vitamin A deficiency of public health significance based on the prevalence of night blindness and biochemical vitamin A deficiency (serum retinol concentration <0.70 µmol/L), respectively, in preschool-age children.

Night blindness is estimated to affect 5.2 million preschool-age children (33.3% globally) and 9.8 million pregnant women (15.3% globally). Regions of Africa and South-East Asia were found to be the most affected.

Manifestations include:

  • dry and scaly skin

  • increased intracranial pressure

  • ocular effects

    • xerophthalmia (dry eye) - common cause of blindness in young children in developing countries

    • poor night vision/night blindness

    • photophobia

    • Bitot spots

  • skull hyperostosis 5

    • can lead to secondary compressive optic neuropathy 5

  • decreased immunity

  • renal tract stones from pelvic keratinization

  • in infancy

    • susceptibility to infection

    • anemia

    • cranial nerve injury

    • growth retardation

  • slow bone development

  • widening of the cranial sutures with bulging fontanelles

  • skull hyperostosis 5

Administration of vitamin A given orally or parenterally, if malabsorption is the cause of the deficiency.

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