Fat-soluble vitamin deficiency in infants and children.

Fat-soluble vitamin deficiency is known to result in various complications that may be prevented if the problem is recognized and managed appropriately. In infants and children with chronic cholestasis, replacement of the fat-soluble vitamins, vitamins A, D, E, and K, may prove extremely difficult because low concentrations of intraluminal bile acids lead to malabsorption of these compounds and other fat-soluble substances.

Recent progress in the use of a water-soluble form of vitamin E, d-alpha-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol-1000 succinate, has enabled correction of vitamin E-deficiency states in these patients. It has also allowed for the admixture and coadministration of other fat-soluble vitamins and compounds in d-alpha-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol-1000 succinate to enhance their absorption. For managing vitamin K deficiency, similar success has been achieved using a vitamin K compound solubilized in glycocholate and lecithin.

Vitamin A deficiency has been implicated in the higher incidence of childhood mortality and morbidity in Third World countries. Increased risk of childhood cancer has recently been associated with intramuscular injection of vitamin K to newborns. Finally, it is worth noting that among the pediatric population, exclusively breastfed infants, in general, are at risk for hypovitaminosis D, and at even greater risk in the absence of adequate exposure to sunlight or when the maternal diet is not sufficient to provide for vitamin D requirements.

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