Journal of Refugee & Global Health



Vitamin deficiency in the developing world is a considerable public health issue that is often overlooked. Refugees are some of the most vulnerable populations, since they rely almost exclusively on the nutrition provided by refugee camps. Buffalo, NY resettles the fourth largest number of refugees per capita among cities in the United States (US).


We examined the prevalence of vitamin A, B2, B12, and D deficiencies among refugees who had been recently resettled to Buffalo, NY and referred to our practice for assessment. Our exploratory objective was to examine potential differences in the prevalence of vitamin deficiencies among those living in specific refugee camps.


Study Design: Retrospective chart review. Study Population: Refugees between the ages of 2 and 75 and resettled in Buffalo between December 2012 and March 2014 who were registered patients at our practice (n=250). Independent Variables: Age, gender, country of origin, country of refugee camp refugee, length of time in US prior to medical evaluation, length of time in refugee camp. Dependent Variables: % of deficiencies among vitamin A, B2, B12 and D levels. Data Analysis: Fisher Exact Test; ANOVA.


There was only one reported case of vitamin A deficiency (0.45%, p=0.37) and only 6 cases of vitamin B2 deficiency (3.4%, p=0.87). Conversely, vitamin B12 and D were deficient in 37.2% (p<0.0001) and 58.9% (p<0.0001) of samples, respectively.


There are concerning deficiencies noted for vitamin B12 and D levels among refugees resettled in Buffalo, NY. There was also significant variation in the prevalence of vitamin B12 and D deficiency between countries of refuge. These analyses suggest that vitamin B12 and D deficiency is a considerable issue in refugees resettled in NYS and should be addressed by local clinicians involved in the post-resettlement care of these populations.


This study was exclusively self-funded by the department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, SUNY at Buffalo.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
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