Background Despite the high prevalence of childhood protein-energy malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency in sub-Saharan Africa, their association has not been explored in this region. A better understanding of the epidemiologic link could help define effective preventive strategies. We aimed to explore the association of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) with stunting, wasting, and underweight among preschool children in Uganda. Method We analyzed a population-based, cross-sectional data of 4,765 children aged 6-59 months who participated in 2016 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in Uganda. We utilized generalized linear mixed-effects models with logit link function, adjusting for potential confounders to estimate associations between VAD and stunting, wasting, and underweight. Results The prevalence of VAD was 8.9% (95% CI: 8.1% to 9.6%, n = 424). Twenty-seven percent were stunted (95% CI: 26.1% to 28.6, n = 1302), 4% wasted (95% CI: 3.6% to 4.7%, n = 196), and 17% underweight (95% CI: 16.0% to 18.2%, n = 813). After adjusting for household factors (e.g., wealth index, education and working status of parents, owning land for agriculture, livestock, herds, or farm animals), vitamin A supplementation, and community factors (e.g., population density, crop growing season lengths, place of residence), children with VAD had 43% higher odds of stunted growth than those without VAD (adjusted odds ratio, 1.43 (95% CI: 1.08 to 1.89, p = 0.01). No association was observed between VAD and wasting or underweight. Conclusion Vitamin A deficiency was associated with higher odds of stunting, and the association was independent of the individual, household, and community-level variables.
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