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Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Dec;143(3):1398-412. doi: 10.1007/s12011-011-8999-8. Epub 2011 Mar 3.

Associations of socio-demographic and behavioral variables with hair zinc of Vancouver preschoolers.

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  • 1University of British Columbia, Human Early Learning Partnership, 440, 2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Marginal zinc deficiency (MZD) exists in children of industrialized societies and impairs growth and development. MZD is believed to be one of the most common deficiencies, even though there is no data available on its global prevalence. This is partly because of the lack of sensitivity and specificity of serum zinc, the most commonly used biomarker of zinc status, to detect MZD. In children, MZD is always accompanied by a decrease in hair zinc. This cross-sectional study was designed to explore if there are any associations between some socio-demographic and behavioral variables with hair zinc status in an attempt to understand the social determinants of MZD and the profile of at risk children. Our citywide survey (n = 719) indicated a mean hair zinc of 116 ± 43 μg/g with 17% below the cutoff. Logistic regression analysis indicated that age, maternal education, number of adults at home, being described as "eating unhealthy", and Child Behavior Questionnaire scores of "activity level" as the significant predictors of hair zinc status. Our study provides important information on the hair zinc status of Vancouver preschoolers and some factors in children and their environment associated with hair zinc, which may help in better understanding of hair zinc as a biomarker of MZD.

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