The impact of vitamin A supplementation on mortality inequalities among children in Nepal

David Bishai, K. C.Samir Kumar, Hugh Waters, Michael Koenig, Joanne Katz, Subarna K. Khatry, Keith P. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: This paper examines gender, caste and economic differentials in child mortality in the context of a cluster-randomized trial of vitamin A distribution, in order to determine whether or not the intervention narrowed these differentials. Design: The study involved secondary analysis of data from a placebo-controlled randomized field trial of vitamin A supplements. The study took place between 1989-1991 in rural Sarlahi District of Nepal, with 30 059 children age 6 to 60 months. The main outcome measures were differences in mortality between boys and girls, between highest Hindu castes and others, and between the poorest quintile and the four other quintiles. Results: Without vitamin A, girls in rural Nepal experience 26.1 deaths per 1000, which is 8.3 deaths more than the comparison population of boys. With vitamin A the mortality disadvantage of girls is nearly completely attenuated, at only 1.41 additional deaths per 1000 relative to boys. Vitamin A supplementation also narrowed mortality differentials among Hindu castes, but did not lower the concentration of mortality across quintiles of asset ownership. The vitamin A-related attenuation in mortality disadvantage from gender and caste is statistically significant. Conclusions: We conclude that universal supplementation with vitamin A narrowed differentials in child death across gender and caste in rural Nepal. Assuring high-coverage vitamin A distribution throughout Nepal could help reduce inequalities in child survival in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
JournalHealth policy and planning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Child mortality
  • Health equity
  • Nepal
  • Vitamin A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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