Serum zinc status in sickle cell anaemia children at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Nigeria
Background: Several clinical manifestations of sickle cell anaemia (SCA) have been associated with zinc deficiency. Determining the zinc status of children with SCA in Nigeria, a country that accounts for the highest burden of the disease worldwide, will provide a template that could assist in critically appraising the need or otherwise for zinc supplementation or fortification programmes in these children.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional comparative study conducted at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, Jos, Nigeria among 700 children (350 SCA patients and 350 age and sex matched hemoglobin AA controls). Serum zinc was analysed using the atomic absorption spectrophotometry.
Results: The median serum zinc concentration of children with SCA was 6(3-7) μmol/l and it was significantly lower than that of the controls 8(4-9) μmol/l, p = 0.04. The prevalence of zinc deficiency in this study was 67% in children with SCA compared with 34% in the control group, (p<0.0001). The
proportion of zinc deficient patients was more among children from lower socio economic class (68.5%, 35.5%) than in the upper socio economic class (38.5%, 16.3%) in both cases and controls groups respectively.
Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of zinc deficiency in the study population especially among those with sickle cell anaemia. Zinc supplementation or fortification should be considered as part of intervention strategies to improve the zinc status of these children particularly those with sickle cell anaemia.
Key words: Serum zinc, Sickle cell anaemia, children, Jos, Nigeria