Food and Behaviour Research

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Vitamin A Deficiency Due to Selective Eating as a Cause of Blindness in a High-Income Setting.

Martini S, Rizzello A, Corsini I, Romanin B, Fiorentino M, Grandi S, Bergamaschi R. (0000) Pediatrics Apr 2018 141(Suppl 5) S439-S444 doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2628.

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Vitamin A is a fat-soluble micronutrient involved in the regulation of several physiologic functions, such as visual acuity, epithelial tissue integrity, immune response, and gene expression, thus playing a crucial role in childhood growth and development. Although vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in resource-limited settings is still an actual issue and represents the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness, its occurrence in high-income countries is rare, although possibly underdiagnosed because of its nonspecific early manifestations.

A good awareness of VAD symptoms and risk factors could aid its early diagnosis, which is fundamental to undertake a prompt treatment and to prevent ocular complications. Nevertheless, the role of restrictive dietary habits, increasingly common in developed countries, is often overlooked in infants and children.

We present a case of VAD with permanent ocular sequelae in a 5-year-old girl from a high-income country. In the case described, VAD ensued from a highly restricted diet, mainly limited to oat milk, which had been followed for more than 2 years. This child presented with ocular symptoms, opportunistic infection, anemia, poor growth, and a diffuse squamous metaplasia of the bladder; after commencing retinol supplementation, a gradual healing of clinical VAD manifestations occurred, with the exception of the ocular sequelae, which resulted in irreversible visual loss.