JOURNAL ARTICLE

Concurrent micronutrient deficiencies in lactating mothers and their infants in Indonesia

M A Dijkhuizen, F T Wieringa, C E West, Muherdiyantiningsih, Muhilal
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001, 73 (4): 786-91
11273854

BACKGROUND: Deficiencies of vitamin A, iron, and zinc are prevalent worldwide, affecting vulnerable groups such as lactating women and infants. However, the existence of concurrent deficiencies has received little attention.

OBJECTIVE: The aim was to investigate the extent to which deficiencies of vitamin A, iron, and zinc coexist and the nutritional relation between lactating mothers and their infants.

DESIGN: In a cross-sectional survey in rural West Java, Indonesia, 155 lactating mothers and their healthy infants were assessed anthropometrically and blood, urine, and breast-milk samples were obtained.

RESULTS: Marginal vitamin A deficiency was found in 54% of the infants and 18% of the mothers. More than 50% of the mothers and infants were anemic and 17% of the infants and 25% of the mothers were zinc deficient. There was a strong interrelation between the micronutrient status of the mothers and infants and the concentrations of retinol and beta-carotene in breast milk. Vitamin A deficiency in infants led to an increased risk of anemia and zinc deficiency (odds ratios: 2.5 and 2.9, respectively), whereas in mothers the risk of anemia and iron deficiency (odds ratios: 3.8 and 4.8, respectively) increased. In infants, concentrations of insulin-like growth factor I were related to concentrations of plasma retinol and beta-carotene but not to zinc.

CONCLUSIONS: Micronutrient deficiencies were prevalent in West Java. The micronutrient status of lactating mothers and that of their infants were closely related; breast milk was a key connecting factor for vitamin A status. Furthermore, concurrent micronutrient deficiencies appeared to be the norm.

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