Erythrocytary Zinc and the Infant Growth Profile in Northeast Brazil

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This study evaluated nutritional status linked to zinc levels in 239 randomly selected children at crèches in Teresina, Brazil, aged 3 to 6. Blood samples were collected after fasting of 10 h. Erythrocytary zinc levels were determined through flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Zinc deficiency was determined as below 40 μg Zn/g Hb. Infant linear growth was evaluated measuring weight and height, and nutritional status by height/age, weight/height, and weight/age indices, expressed as Z scores, in line with the National Center for Health Statistics. The mean zinc concentration was 35.50 ± 10.95 μg Zn/g Hb. Zinc distribution in the 10, 50, 75, and 90 percentiles was 24.73 μg Zn/g Hb, 35.45 μg Zn/g Hb, 40.73 μg Zn/g Hb and 52.77 μg Zn/g Hb, respectively. Based on this distribution, normal values were found only from the 75th percentile and above. Since the cutoff point adopted was 40 μg Zn/g Hb, the prevalence of zinc deficiency was 74.3%. As for growth profile, 8.4% were chronically malnourished, although the statistical association between linear impairment and nutritional status regarding zinc was insignificant. The study revealed that an important segment of the infant population was mineral deficient; however, the degree of deficiency did not influence growth profiles.

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