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Impact of parasitic infections on nutritional status and micronutrients in Saudi children.

Background: Micronutrients deficiency is a great problem that is augmented by infection and poor nutrition. Copper, zinc, and iron are trace elements needed for human growth. Objective: To investigate the impact of parasitic infections on nutritional status and serum copper, iron, and zinc in western Saudi children. Subjects and methods: A case-control study included 110 parasitic infected children and 90 age and sex matched controls. Anthropometric measures were evaluated using specific Saudi Arabian growth charts. Parasites were detected in stool specimens using standard microscopic methods. Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer was used for detection of serum zinc, iron, and copper. Data were analyzed statistically using SPSS version 20. Results: Parasitic infected children showed a statistically significant low weight for age, weight for height, and BMI. Serum zinc, iron, and copper were significantly lower in parasitic infected children than control. Serum zinc has the most significant positive correlation with weight for age, weight for height and BMI for age (r=0.6, 0.6, 0.7), respectively, followed by iron. Malnutrition existed in 34.5% of children with parasitic infections with a significant impact on serum zinc. Multiple linear regression models showed a highly negative effect of parasitic infection and a less negative effect to underweight on serum zinc, copper and iron levels. Conclusion: Studied serum micronutrients especially zinc and iron and anthropometric indices were significantly lower in parasitically infected children.

Author(s): Naglaa M Shalaby, Nehad M Shalaby, Ashraf O Sayed