Micronutrient deficiencies are common in 6- to 8-year-old children of rural Nepal, with prevalence estimates modestly affected by inflammation

Kerry J. Schulze, Parul Christian, Lee S.F. Wu, Margia Arguello, Hongjie Cui, Ashika Nanayakkara-Bind, Christine P. Stewart, Subarna K. Khatry, Steven LeClerq, Keith P. West

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49 Scopus citations


Subclinical micronutrient deficiencies remain a hidden aspect of malnutrition for which comprehensive data are lacking in school-aged children. We assessed the micronutrient status of Nepalese children, aged 6 to 8 y, born to mothers who participated in a community-based antenatal micronutrient supplementation trial from 1999 to 2001. Of 3305 participants, plasma indicators were assessed in a random sample of 1000 children. Results revealed deficiencies of vitamins A (retinol <0.70 μmol/L, 8.5%), D (25-hydroxyvitamin D <50 nmol/L, 17.2%), E (α-tocopherol <9.3 μmol/L, 17.9%), K (decarboxy prothombin >2 μg/L, 20%), B-12 (cobalamin <150 pmol/L, 18.1%), B-6 [pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP) <20 nmol/L, 43.1%], and β-carotene (41.5%<0.09 μmol/L),with little folate deficiency (6.2%<13.6 nmol/L). Deficiencies of iron [ferritin <15 μg/L, 10.7%; transferrin receptor (TfR) >8.3mg/L, 40.1%; TfR:ferritin >500 μg/μg, 14.3%], iodine (thyroglobulin >40 μg/L, 11.4%), and selenium (plasma selenium <0.89 μmol/L, 59.0%) were observed, whereas copper deficiency was nearly absent (plasma copper <11.8 μmol/L, 0.7%). Hemoglobin was not assessed. Among all children, 91.7% experienced at least 1 micronutrient deficiency, and 64.7% experienced multiple deficiencies. Inflammation (α-1 acid glycoprotein >1 g/L, C-reactive protein >5 μg/L, or both) was present in 31.6%of children, affecting the prevalence of deficiency as assessed by retinol, b-carotene, PLP, ferritin, TfR, selenium, copper, or having any or multiple deficiencies. For any nutrient, population deficiency prevalence estimates were altered by ≤5.4% by the presence of inflammation, suggesting that the majority of deficiencies exist regardless of inflammation. Multiple micronutrient deficiencies coexist in school-aged children in rural Nepal, meriting more comprehensive strategies for their assessment and prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-987
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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