In Morocco, Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is recognized to constitute a public health problem of severe level among children under five years; but prevalence of VAD remains unknown among school-age children. This longitudinal, interventional and double-blind study aimed to investigate the effects of consuming multi-micronutrients fortified milk, including vitamins A, as part of a geographically targeted school-milk program, on vitamin A status of school-aged children
School-Children (N=181), aged 7-9 years, were recruited in a rural and mountainous region in Morocco. Children were assigned to a fortified and a non-fortified milks groups, where milk was provided on a daily basis for a total period of 9 months. The vitamin A status was assessed on the basis of serum retinol concentrations. Children were not dewormed.
At the baseline, the overall prevalence of low serum retinol (<200 µg/l) was 45.9%, what identified the studied population as having a severe public health problem of VAD and5.2% of the schoolchildren were severely vitamin A deficient (<100 µg/l). By the end of the study, it was observed a substantial decrease of the VAD from 48.1% to 4.3% in the fortified group and from 44.3% to 25% in the non-fortified group. At the endline, the difference was highly significant between the fortified and the non-fortified groups .
VAD could be a public health issue among the rural school-age population in Morocco. Introducing fortified milk in the Moroccan school-feeding program will be of great importance to fight against VAD in this age group.