Anthropometric Indices and Serum Micronutrient Status of Helminth – Infected School Children from Semi-Urban Communities in Southwestern Nigeria

K S Akinwande, O A Morenikeji, O G Arinola


Adequate nutrition is essential for normal growth of children but helminth infection is proposed to cause nutritional deficiencies. This study was carried out to assess the nutritional status of helminth infected school aged children in semi-urban communities of South-West Nigeria. Two hundred children from primary schools in Akinyele Local Government of Oyo State, Nigeria participated in the study. Anthropometric measurements were analyzed using the WHO AnthroPlus software. Kato Katz method was used to detect ova of helminths in the stool while serum levels of iron, zinc, selenium, ferritin, transferrin, vitamin A, vitamin C and haptoglobin were measured using High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Atomic Absorption Spectophotometry as appropriate. 60 (30%) of the children had intestinal helminth infection with Ascaris lumbricoides (23.0%) as most prevalent, followed by hookworm (2.5%) and Trichuris trichuria (0.5%).  Stunting was more prevalent than thinness or underweight among the study population especially the female children. There were significantly reduced serum levels of zinc and vitamin A and significantly increased serum levels of transferrin and selenium in helminth-infected children compared with helminth-uninfected children. This study established the need for regular deworming of school age children and supplementing diets of school children in rural communities with vitamin A and zinc.

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