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#Allergy and Immunology
Deficiency of zinc is an important cause of morbidity due to infections and slowing of growth among young children. Preschool children, especially who are living in low socioeconomic communities are predisposed at a higher risk of zinc deficiency due to increased demand of zinc for rapid growth and also decreased intake of zinc because of inadequate feeding practices.
There is little evidence from intervention trials suggesting that supplementation of zinc might reduce the risk of pneumonia and the duration of dysentery, diarrhoea and malaria in preschool children. Though, less information is available on the global incidence of zinc deficiency. Globally, the population/national-level of zinc supplementation programmes have attained limited success in improving zinc deficiency.
Community-based evidence related to factors that influence zinc deficiency among preschool children in India are still inadequate. A large, double-blinded, randomized, controlled zinc-supplementation trial for evaluating the descriptive epidemiology of zinc deficiency among children aged 6-35 months (n = 940) was used.
Altogether, 609 children were followed up for almost 120 days for data on morbidity. Out of these, 116 children from the control group belonged to the upper and the lower 25th quartile of plasma zinc status at baseline. They were selected for evaluating the relation of zinc deficiency with prospective morbidity. At baseline, the socioeconomic, demographic and dietary information was collected, and anthropometric measurements and plasma zinc levels were also evaluated. At baseline, almost 73.3% of the children were zinc-deficient (plasma zinc < 70 microg/dL), out of which 33.8% had plasma zinc levels below 60 microg/dL. Thus, it was concluded that a significantly higher risk of morbidity was predominant in the participants with lower plasma zinc levels as compared to those with higher plasma zinc levels.
Source: Dhingra U, Hiremath G, Menon VP, Dhingra P, Sarkar A, Sazawal S. Zinc deficiency: descriptive epidemiology and morbidity among preschool children in peri-urban population in Delhi, India. J Health Popul Nutr. 2009 Oct;27(5):632-9. doi: 10.3329/jhpn.v27i5.3639. PMID: 19902798; PMCID: PMC2928091.