Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Extent of vitamin A deficiency among rural pregnant women in Bangladesh

Vanessa Leea1, Faruk Ahmeda2a3 c1, Shoko Wadaa4, Tahmeed Ahmeda5a6, AM Shamsir Ahmeda5, Cadi Parvin Banua7 and Nasima Akhtera8

a1 School of Public Health, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

a2 Department of Family Sciences, College for Women, Kuwait University, Safat 13060, Kuwait

a3 School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia

a4 Japan International Cooperation Agency, Tokyo, Japan

a5 International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease, Mohakhali, Dhaka, Bangladesh

a6 James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh

a7 Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh

a8 Helen Keller International, Dhaka, Bangladesh


Objective To investigate the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) among pregnant women in rural Bangladesh, and examine the relationship between various factors and vitamin A status.

Setting Community Nutrition Promoter (CNP) centres in Kapasia sub-district of Gazipur district, Bangladesh.

Design A cross-sectional study.

Subjects and methods Two hundred women, aged 18–39 years, in their second or third trimester of pregnancy were selected from seventeen CNP centres in four unions of Kapasia sub-district where they usually visit for antenatal care. Various socio-economic, personal and pregnancy-related information, dietary intake of vitamin A and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) data were collected. Serum retinol (vitamin A) concentration was determined.

Results More than half (51 %) of the pregnant women had low vitamin A status (serum retinol <1·05 μmol/l) with 18·5 % having VAD (serum retinol <0·70 μmol/l). Fifty-three per cent of the women’s vitamin A intake was less than the recommended dietary allowance. By multiple regression analysis, MUAC, per-capita expenditure on food and wealth index were found to have significant independent positive relationship with serum retinol concentration, while gestational age of the pregnant women had a negative relationship. The overall F-ratio (10·3) was highly significant (P = 0·0001), the adjusted R2 was 0·18 (multiple R = 0·45).

Conclusion VAD is highly prevalent among rural pregnant women in Bangladesh. Gestational age, nutritional status, per-capita expenditure on food and wealth index appear to be important in influencing the vitamin A status of these women. An appropriate intervention is warranted in order to improve the vitamin A status.

(Received October 11 2007)

(Accepted April 16 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Email