Keywords: micronutrients, trace element deficiencies, primary school children, rural communities, Nigeria, plasma levels, copper deficiencies, iron deficiencies, zinc deficiencies, anaemia, gender, rural areas, malnutrition, health facilities, public health education, food diversification, personal hygiene, environmental hygiene
Plasma levels of copper, iron and zinc in healthy primary school children from rural communities of Ebonyi State, South Eastern Nigeria
Plasma copper, iron and zinc were determined in 295 primary school children; mean age = 8.81 ± 2.07 years from rural communities in Ebonyi State, Southeastern Nigeria using atomic absorption spectrophotometers. Copper and zinc deficiencies were found in 4.1% and 6.1% respectively while inadequate plasma iron and anaemia were found in 21.4% and 20%, respectively. Significantly, higher prevalence of zinc deficiency was observed in females (8.8% vs. 3.4%; p = 0.047) and copper deficiency in males (6.1% vs. 2.0%; p = 0.043). Although, plasma copper and zinc decrease with pupils age, only copper was found to be statistically significant (r = −0.121, p = 0.038). Data suggest that copper and zinc malnutrition may not be of concern among rural primary school children however, sustenance of functional health facilities and public health education on food diversification and good personal and environmental hygiene are advocated.