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Micronutrient levels and nutritional status of school children living in Northwest Ethiopia

Bemnet Amare1*, Beyene Moges2, Bereket Fantahun3, Ketema Tafess2, Desalegn Woldeyohannes2, Gizachew Yismaw2, Tilahun Ayane1, Tomoki Yabutani4, Andargachew Mulu2, Fusao Ota5 and Afework Kassu2

Author affiliations

1 Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Gondar, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Gondar, Ethiopia

2 Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, University of Gondar, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Gondar, Ethiopia

3 Department of Pediatrics, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

4 Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan

5 University of Tokushima, Institute of Health Biosciences, Tokushima, Japan

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:108  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-108

Published: 13 December 2012



Several micronutrients are essential for adequate growth of children. However, little information is available on multiple micronutrient status of school children in Ethiopia. The present study was designed to evaluate the relationship between multiple micronutrient levels and nutritional status among school children.


In this cross-sectional study, anthropometric data, blood and stool samples were collected from 100 children at Meseret Elementary School in Gondar town, Northwest Ethiopia. Serum concentration of magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium and molybdenum were measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. Anthropometric indices of weight-for-age, height-for-age and BMI-for-age were used to estimate the children's nutritional status. Stool samples were examined by standard microscopic methods for intestinal parasites.


The prevalence of stunting, underweight, wasting and intestinal parasitoses among school children was 23%, 21%, 11% and18%, respectively. The mean serum levels of magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium and molybdenum were 2.42±0.32 (mg/dl), 15.31±2.14 (mg/dl), 328.19±148.91 (μg/dl), 191.30±50.17 (μg/dl), 86.40±42.40 (μg/dl), 6.32±2.59 (μg/dl), and 0.23±0.15 (μg/dl), respectively. Selenium deficiency, zinc deficiency and magnesium deficiency occurred in 62%, 47%, and 2% of the school children, respectively. Height-for-age showed significant positive correlation with the levels of copper and molybdenum (p = 0.01) and with the levels of magnesium (p = 0.05).


Deficiencies of selenium and zinc were high among the school children although the deficiencies were not significantly related with their nutritional status. The prevalence of both malnutrition and intestinal parasitism was not negligible. These calls for the need to undertake multicentre studies in various parts of the country to substantiate the data obtained in the present study so that appropriate and beneficial strategies for micronutrient supplementation and interventions on nutritional deficiencies can be planned.

School children; Nutritional status; Micronutrients; Gondar; Ethiopia