JOURNAL ARTICLE

Anthropometric and micronutrient status of school-children in an urban West Africa setting: a cross-sectional study in Dakar (Senegal)

Marion Fiorentino, Guillaume Bastard, Malick Sembène, Sonia Fortin, Pierre Traissac, Edwige Landais, Christèle Icard-Vernière, Frank T Wieringa, Jacques Berger
PloS One 2013, 8 (12): e84328
24391938

BACKGROUND: Urban areas in West Africa are not immune to undernutrition with recent urbanization and high food prices being important factors. School children often have a poor nutritional status, potentially affecting their health and schooling performance. Yet, generally school children do not benefit from nutrition programs. The objective of the study was to assess the anthropometric and micronutrient status of children from state schools in the Dakar area.

METHODS: School children (n = 604) aged from 5 to 17 y (52.5% girls, 47.5% ≥ 10 y) were selected through a two-stage random cluster sample of children attending urban primary state schools in the Dakar area (30 schools × 20 children). The prevalence of stunting (height-for-age<-2 z-scores) and thinness (BMI-for-age<-2 z-scores, WHO 2006, and three grades of thinness corresponding to BMI of 18.5, 17.0 and 16.0 kg/m2 in adults) were calculated from weight and height. Hemoglobin, plasma concentrations of ferritin (FER), transferrin receptors (TfR), retinol binding protein (RBP), and zinc, and urinary iodine concentrations were measured. Correction factors were used for FER and RBP in subjects with inflammation determined with C-reactive protein and α1-acid-glycoprotein.

RESULTS: 4.9% of children were stunted, 18.4% were thin, 5.6% had severe thinness (BMI-for-age<-3 z-scores). Only one child had a BMI-for-age>2 z-scores. Prevalence of anemia, iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia was 14.4%, 39.1% and 10.6% respectively. 3.0% had vitamin A deficiency, 35.9% a marginal vitamin A status, and 25.9% zinc deficiency. Urinary iodine was <50 µg/L in 7.3% of children and ≥ 200 µg/L in 22.3%. The prevalence of marginal vitamin A, zinc deficiency, high TfR was significantly higher in boys than in girls (P<0.05). Height-for-age and retinol were significantly lower in participants ≥ 10 y and <10 y respectively.

CONCLUSION: Undernutrition, especially thinness, iron and zinc deficiencies in school children in the Dakar area requires special targeted nutrition interventions.

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