Addressing Vitamin A Deficiency in Infants in Poverty

Doctor examining an infant

Vitamin A, like every other vitamin, is essential for health and well-being in humans. This isn’t exactly a disputed fact, and if you’ve read many of Vine Vera’s other articles this week, it’s one you’re no doubt familiar with. That said, one thing we haven’t paid particular attention to yet that deserves a spotlight or three is the need for proper nutrition in the youngest part of the population, namely: unborn infants, newborns, and toddlers. These ages are no doubt formative in a number of ways. Psychologically, the experience a young child has at those ages is quintessential for developing into a happy, emotionally balanced adult. And physically speaking, nutrition at that age is so important as to merit very, very serious attention, as improper nutrition at that time can lead to lifelong health problems, or even death.

Think About All the Children, Not Just Yours
That said, in developed countries like ours, infant and toddler nutrition is relatively easy to do right. Granted, it still deserves attention, and you should absolutely talk to your OBGYN while pregnant, and make sure you follow dietary advice to the letter (this is your kid’s future we’re talking about after all), and likewise seek professional medical advice after birth and throughout childhood.

But if you have a reasonable, stable income, this is not hard to do. It requires only that you take the initiative to do it. The rest of the world, though, is not so lucky. Nutrition is a huge issue in undeveloped and under-developed countries; it’s not enough to simply have food, even if one has enough food to keep one full and satisfied. Recall that all the macronutrients (carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins) and all the micronutrients (vitamins), in addition to certain essential trace minerals, aren’t just good for health, they’re required, and if lacking any one of them, serious consequences occur, eventually and inevitably leading to death if untreated. Again, we have it easy in developed countries; so long as we have a halfway-decent income, it’s simply a matter of making good choices, and we’re covered nutritionally. Those in poverty do not have that luxury, and may not have an easy solution for nutrient deficiencies.

Addressing Infant Vitamin A deficiency in Undeveloped and Under-Developed Countries
That said, there is promise for this predicament. Studies are currently being proposed that aim to assess the effect of giving newborns a large dose of vitamin A on the first day of life. The research has yet to be conducted, but the idea is that a big dose on that first day could leave infants with a large supply to draw from during that formative time of life. This is a promising notion, because if true, it would help assess the problem in situations where regular supplementation is difficult.

So keep a lookout, and if you have the inclination, do consider donating to any cause that helps people in poverty receive access to better nutrition (not only in regard to vitamin A, but anything that helps the affected people receive a more complete and nutritious diet). Vine Vera hopes you have a clearer picture of the need for it after reading this.

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