Serum Zinc Levels of Under Five Children with Diarrheal Disease

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U. P. Ikejiaku
I. Anochie
E. C. Nwolisa
F. U. Iregbu
I. B. Amamilo


Background: Diarrhoea is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in children below five years of age especially in developing countries. One of the consequences of diarrhoea in children is zinc deficiency, which may worsen the diarrhoea itself, and thus increase morbidity and mortality.

Aim and Objectives: The study aimed to determine the serum zinc status of under five children with diarrhoea attending Federal Medical Centre Owerri. Also, to compare the serum zinc level between children with diarrhoea and their age and sex-matched controls, as well as determine the relationship, if any between types of diarrhoea, and frequency of diarrhoea episodes.

Methodology: The study was a comparative cross-sectional study carried out at the Emergency Paediatric Unit, The Children’s Outpatient Clinic and The Children’s Ward of the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri. A total of 402 study participants were analyzed. Structured questionnaires were used to collect data including participants’ socio demographic characteristics, the clinical presentation of the present diarrhoeal episode, as well as the frequency and duration of diarrhoeal episodes in the preceding year. Serum zinc was assessed using Varian AA240 Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer.

Results: The prevalence of zinc deficiency in children with diarrhoea was 84.1% while that of children without diarrhoea was 56.2%. Mean serum zinc level was significantly lower in children with diarrhoea when compared to their age and sex matched controls (p=0.000). All children with persistent diarrhoea and dysentery had zinc deficiency. Children with persistent diarrhoea had significantly lower serum levels when compared to children with acute watery diarrhoea. There was a negative correlation between serum zinc level and frequency of stool, duration of the present episode of diarrhoea, frequency of diarrhoea episodes, and the duration of each episode of diarrhoea in the preceding year and the severity of dehydration.

Conclusion: The findings of this study support the present recommendation of the World Health Organization for zinc supplementation in children with diarrhoea, and recommends that children with persistent diarrhoea should have longer treatment with zinc tablets.

Serum zinc level, children, diarrhoeal frequency, diarrhoeal episode, persistent diarrhoea, acute watery diarrhoea, dysentery.

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How to Cite
Ikejiaku, U. P., Anochie, I., Nwolisa, E. C., Iregbu, F. U., & Amamilo, I. B. (2020). Serum Zinc Levels of Under Five Children with Diarrheal Disease. Journal of Advances in Medicine and Medical Research, 32(24), 1-10.
Original Research Article


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