- This study was designed to estimate the prevalence of and evaluate risk factors for subclinical vitamin A deficiency in Arab-Bedouin children at age 18 months, followed from birth. Community-based, prospective, cohort study conducted in Rahat, a large Arab-Bedouin township, located near the city of Beer Sheva in the Negev region of southern Israel. Healthy Bedouin infants (n=117) from the township, born at Soroka University Medical Center (SUMC) in Beer Sheva, were randomly recruited at birth. Enrollment was restricted to well infants born weighing >2500 g at birth. More than 15% of the children had serum retinol concentrations below 0.7 micromol/l. Male sex (odds ratio (OR) 4.17 [1.14-15.32], P=0.031), stunting at age 12 months (OR 10.09 [2.00-50.97], P=0.05) and warm season at age 18 months (OR 6.20 [1.36-28.28], P=0.018) were associated with vitamin A deficiency. Maternal education decreased the risk of vitamin A deficiency (OR 0.81 [0.68-0.95], P=0.011). Study results indicate a significant vitamin A deficiency problem among Bedouin children. Deficiency may be prevented by increasing dietary intake of vitamin A, especially during the warm season. Other interventions include preventing and controlling diarrheal diseases in order to avert nutritional stunting, and providing nutritional education to women of childbearing age. This study received financial support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (AI-26497), the US-Israel Bi-national Science Foundation (BSF 90-00257), and the National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine (AID/ANE 0158-G-SS-9035-00).