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Facility to accelerate efforts to detect Vitamin A deficiency at NIN

Our Bureau

Hyderabad , April 22

A NATIONAL facility to accelerate efforts to detect Vitamin A deficiency early among children and newborns and help boost ongoing initiatives to prevent it has become functional at the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), here.

Called the "National Facility for Dried Blood Spot (DBS) Technology for Vitamin A Estimation," it has been set up with support from the Indian Council of Medical Research, the parent organisation of the NIN.

The facility has also received funding from the Micronutrient Initiatives, New Delhi and equipment gifted from MOST, another New Delhi-based organisation. A long-term agreement has been forged with the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau and the two New Delhi organisation for analysing sample collected for studies.

Besides this, the facility would be collaborating with the International organisations such as the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics, TERI and the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines in the area of basic research in identifying pro-vitamin A rich staple foods, including genetically modified foods, according to the NIN.

Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness among children in the country. Serum Vitamin A concentration is the most commonly used indicator for assessing the Vitamin A status of people. It is also recommended by the International Vitamin A Consultative Group. The present facility at the NIN requires a dried blood spot on a filter paper and sophisticated analysis in the laboratory. Thus simplifying and making it user friendly and cost effective. It would also train scientists, provide technical services for analysis of serum vitamin A and at a later stage to analysis of other micro-nutrients.

Large number of specimens collected can be analysed for Vitamin A both from dried blood spot as well as serum/plasma or fortified foods with the currently available equipment. It ensures that the sample can be collected from remote locations, easily transport them and reduce risk of infection, NIN said.

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