Zinc deficiency associated with anaemia among young children in rural Guatemala

Ana M. Palacios, Kristen M. Hurley, Silvia De-Ponce, Víctor Alfonso, Nicholas Tilton, Kaley B. Lambden, Gregory A. Reinhart, Jeanne H. Freeland-Graves, Lisa M. Villanueva, Maureen M. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


One in four children younger than age five in Guatemala experiences anaemia (haemoglobin <11.0 g/dl). This study characterized the factors and micronutrient deficiencies associated with anaemia in a baseline cross-sectional sample of 182 Guatemalan infants/toddlers and 207 preschoolers, using generalized linear mixed models. Associations between anaemia and maternal, child and household variables, and biomarkers (soluble transferrin receptor, ferritin, zinc, folate, vitamin B12, C-reactive protein, and α1-acid glycoprotein) were explored. Rates of anaemia were 56% among infants/toddlers and 12.1% among preschoolers. In children with anaemia, rates of iron deficiency (low ferritin based on inflammation status, and/or high soluble transferrin receptor, ≥1.97 mg/L) and zinc deficiency (serum zinc <65 μg/dl) were 81.1% and 53.7%, respectively. Folate deficiency (either plasma folate <3 ng/ml or erythrocyte folate <100 ng/ml) was 3.3%. Vitamin B12 deficiency (plasma vitamin B12 <148 pmol/L) was 7.5%. For infants and toddlers (<24 months), the odds ratio of anaemia was lower when higher number of adults lived in the household (OR = 0.69; 95% CI [0.53, 0.90]), and higher when children were zinc deficient (OR = 3.40; 95% CI [1.54, 7.47]). For preschoolers (36–60 months), the odds ratio of anaemia was lower for every additional month of age (OR = 0.90; 95% CI [0.81, 1.00]). Findings suggest that micronutrient deficiencies coexist in Guatemalan rural children, and zinc deficiency is associated with anaemia in children <24 months, highlighting the need of continued multidisciplinary interventions with multiple micronutrients. Further research examining how household composition, feeding practices, and accessibility to micronutrient supplements and to animal source foods is needed to incorporate strategies to improve the nutritional status of Guatemalan children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12885
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • anaemia
  • hemoglobin
  • international child health nutrition
  • micronutrient deficiencies
  • undernutrition
  • zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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