Public health nutrition

Disadvantaged pre-schoolers attending day care in Salvador, Northeast Brazil have a low prevalence of anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies.

PMID 24008015


To examine the micronutrient status of disadvantaged pre-schoolers from Northeast Brazil, following the introduction of pro-poor policies, by assessing the prevalence of anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies and the role of sociodemographic factors, genetic Hb disorders and parasitic infections. In a cross-sectional study, data on sociodemographic status, health, growth, genetic Hb disorders, parasites and nutrient supply from day-care meals were obtained. Fasting blood samples were collected and analysed for Hb, serum ferritin, transferrin receptor, folate, vitamin B₁₂, retinol, Zn and Se. Seven philanthropic day-care centres serving urban slums in Salvador, Northeast Brazil. Pre-schoolers aged 3-6 years from disadvantaged households. Of the 376 sampled children, 94 % were of black or mixed race; 33 % and 29 % had at least one genetic Hb disorder and intestinal parasite, respectively. Stunting and underweight were ≤5 %; 14 % were overweight. Day-care centres supplied micronutrient-dense meals and snacks each weekday. Less than 10 % of pre-schoolers had anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies. Predictors (P < 0·05) of Hb were α(3·7) thalassaemia, Se and retinol (but not ferritin). Micronutrient predictors (P < 0·05) were: elevated α₁-glycoprotein for ferritin, Hb AS and BMI Z-score >1 for transferrin receptor, Zn and elevated α₁-glycoprotein for retinol, sex and helminths for Se, helminths for vitamin B₁₂, and Giardia intestinalis infection for serum folate. Impaired growth, anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies were uncommon among these disadvantaged pre-schoolers attending day care. A range of interventions including provision of micronutrient-dense, fortified day-care meals, deworming and vitamin A supplementation likely contributed to improved micronutrient status, suggesting expanded coverage of these programmes.