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A digest of recent literature

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Search of the literature during the past few months in preparation for selection of those papers that might be of most interest and significance for our readers resulted in a very high proportion of them being on topics of a basic science and laboratory experimental nature; about 70 per cent. This represents a considerable shift away from the community-based projects and epidemiological studies that tended to dominate some years ago. This is reminiscent of changes that occurred in earlier years and it may be profitable to review them briefly. In the early years of the 20th century, leading up to and following upon the discovery of “fat soluble A” in 1913, almost all reports were chemical, biochemical, or animal experimental in nature. In the middle of the century numerous reports began to appear about blinding malnutrition, especially in young children, recognized to be due to severe vitamin A deficiency and termed xerophthalmia. This was an essential part of a worldwide movement of increased interest and concern that led, by the later years of the 20th century, to the virtual control of xerophthalmia. At about the same time, a notion that had surfaced briefly decades before – that deficiency of vitamin A predisposed to increased morbidity and mortality, especially through impairment of response to serious infections – was put thoroughly to the test in large field trials, and shown to be true. The effect of this shift in emphasis of research and practice had a predictable impact on the literature: papers on xerophthalmia have dwindled away to almost zero, while all aspects of vitamin A and infections and immunology are being thoroughly explored.

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Key Details

Year 2006
Authors Donald S McLaren
Language English
Keywords
DOI https://doi.org/10.52439/VIIY8008
DOI Number 10.52439/VIIY8008
ISBN
ISSN

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