Title: Plasma levels of copper, iron and zinc in healthy primary school children from rural communities of Ebonyi State, South Eastern Nigeria

Authors: Emmanuel Ike Ugwuja; Nicholas C. Ugwu; Vivian U. Muoneke; Chinyere Aloke; John N. Idenyi; Henry Uro-Chukwu

Addresses: Department of Chemical Pathology, Ebonyi State University, P.M.B. 053, Abakaliki, Nigeria ' Department of Chemical Pathology, Ebonyi State University, P.M.B. 053, Abakaliki, Nigeria ' Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Clinical Medicine, Ebonyi State University, P.M.B. 053, Abakaliki, Nigeria ' Department of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria ' Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria ' Department of Social Mobilisation, National Fistula Center, Abakaliki, Nigeria

Abstract: Plasma copper, iron and zinc were determined in 295 primary school children; mean age = 8.81 ± 2.07 years from rural communities in Ebonyi State, Southeastern Nigeria using atomic absorption spectrophotometers. Copper and zinc deficiencies were found in 4.1% and 6.1% respectively while inadequate plasma iron and anaemia were found in 21.4% and 20%, respectively. Significantly, higher prevalence of zinc deficiency was observed in females (8.8% vs. 3.4%; p = 0.047) and copper deficiency in males (6.1% vs. 2.0%; p = 0.043). Although, plasma copper and zinc decrease with pupils age, only copper was found to be statistically significant (r = −0.121, p = 0.038). Data suggest that copper and zinc malnutrition may not be of concern among rural primary school children however, sustenance of functional health facilities and public health education on food diversification and good personal and environmental hygiene are advocated.

Keywords: micronutrients; trace element deficiencies; primary school children; rural communities; Nigeria; plasma levels; copper deficiencies; iron deficiencies; zinc deficiencies; anaemia; gender; rural areas; malnutrition; health facilities; public health education; food diversification; personal hygiene; environmental hygiene.

DOI: 10.1504/IJFSNPH.2015.067571

International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition and Public Health, 2015 Vol.5 No.2, pp.162 - 172

Accepted: 17 Oct 2014
Published online: 17 Feb 2015 *

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