The Nigeria Strategy Support Program (NSSP) is pleased to share the publication of “Cassava intake and vitamin A status among women and preschool children in Akwa-Ibom, Nigeria” by Fabiana F. De Moura, Mourad Moursi, Abdelrahman Lubowa, Barbara Ha, Erick Boy, Babatunde Oguntona, Rasaki A. Sanusi, and Busie Maziya-Dixon, in the peer-reviewed journal, PLoS ONE (Vol. 10 Issue 6) as part of IFPRI's HarvestPlus program.
As part of the HarvestPlus provitamin A-biofortified cassava program in Nigeria we conducted a survey to determine the cassava intake and prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among children 6-59 months and women of childbearing age in the state of Akwa Ibom.
A cluster-randomized cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2011 in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria. The usual food and nutrient intakes were estimated using a multi-pass 24-hour recall with repeated recall on a subsample. Blood samples of children and women were collected to analyze for serum retinol, serum ferritin, and acute phase proteins as indicators of infection. Vitamin A deficiency was defined as serum retinol <0.70 μmol/L adjusted for infection.
A total of 587 households of a mother-child dyad participated in the dietary intake assessment. Cassava was very widely consumed in Akwa Ibom, mainly as gari or foofoo. Daily cassava consumption frequency was 92% and 95% among children and women, respectively. Mean (±SD) cassava intake (expressed as raw fresh weight) was 348 ± 317 grams/day among children and 940 ± 777 grams/day among women. Intakes of most micronutrients appeared to be adequate with the exception of calcium. Median vitamin A intake was very high both for children (1038 μg RAE/day) and women (2441 μg RAE/day). Red palm oil and dark green leafy vegetables were the main sources of vitamin A in the diet, with red palm oil alone contributing almost 60% of vitamin A intake in women and children. Prevalence of vitamin A deficiency ranged from moderate (16.9 %) among children to virtually non-existent (3.4 %) among women.
Consumption of cassava and vitamin A intake was high among women and children in Akwa Ibom with a prevalence of vitamin A deficiency ranging from moderate in children to non-existent among women. The provitamin A biofortified cassava and other vitamin A interventions should focus dissemination in states where red palm oil is not widely consumed.