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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 291-296

Serum zinc levels in apparently healthy children in Nigeria: Are they acceptable

Department of Pediatrics, Enugu State University College of Medicine, Enugu, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Nduagubam Obinna Chukwuebuka
Department of Pediatrics, Enugu State University College of Medicine, Enugu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/nmj.NMJ_20_20

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Introduction: Despite the importance of zinc in the human body, there is paucity of data on the zinc status of Nigerian children. The aim of this study was to determine the serum zinc levels of children attending the pediatric outpatient clinic of a tertiary hospital in South East Nigeria and to assess their need for routine zinc supplementation. Materials and Methods: One hundred children aged 5–60 months were recruited consecutively from the pediatric outpatient clinic. Their socioeconomic class (SEC) was assessed using the tool developed by Oyedeji. Physical examination was carried out to exclude malnutrition and/or liver disease. Samples were collected in the morning from nonfasting subjects and were analyzed using atomic absorption spectrophotometer. Serum zinc deficiency was defined as zinc level <80 μg/dl. Results: The overall median (range) serum zinc level was 83.3ug/dl (60–105 μg/dl) while the median (mean rank) serum zinc levels among male and female subjects were 83.4 μg/dl and 84.2ug/dl, respectively (U = 1071.00; P = 0.228). A total of 26 (26%) apparently healthy children had low serum zinc levels. There was no association between gender and serum zinc levels (χ[2] = 2.163; P = 0.141). A significant positive but weak relationship was found between SEC and zinc levels (r = 0.208, P = 0.038) but not between serum zinc levels and age of the children (r = 0.185, P = 0.065). Conclusion: A significant proportion of Under-5s could have low serum zinc levels. Routine zinc supplementation may be necessary among this age group in Nigeria.

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