A comparative study of the prevalence of zinc deficiency among children with acute diarrhoea in SouthWestern Nigeria
Background: Zinc deficiency has been associated with increased incidence, severity and duration of childhood diarrhoea.
Objective: The objective of the study was to determine the prevalence of zinc deficiency among under-five children with acute diarrhoea.
Methods: The study was a comparative cross-sectional study in which serum zinc levels were determined using atomic absorp- tion spectrometry in under-five children with acute diarrhoea and in apparently healthy contols. Two hundred and fifty children with acute diarrhoea and 250 controls were studied at the Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesa, Nigeria.
Results: The diarrhoea patients had a mean ± SD serum zinc level of 78.8 ± 35.6 µg/dl, while the controls had a mean of 107.3 ± 46.8 µg/dl. The mean serum zinc level was significantly lower in the patients than the controls (t = -7.66; p < 0.001). Furthermore, the prevalence of zinc deficiency was significantly higher among the patients (30.4% versus 12.4% in the controls; OR = 3.09; 95% CI = 1.94 – 4.90; χ2 = 24.08; p < 0.001). Low social class was associated with a significantly higher prevalence of zinc deficiency among the patients (p = 0.013).
Conclusion: Zinc deficiency is significantly associated with diarrhoea among under-five children in the study community. Hence, routine zinc supplementation should be encouraged for the treatment of diarrhoea, and availability should be ensured.
Keywords: Zinc deficiency; diarrhoea; children; Nigeria.
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