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Height, Zinc and Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections in Schoolchildren: A Study in Cuba and Cambodia

Department of Health Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1081HV, The Netherlands
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp 2000, Belgium
Laboratory of Pathophysiology, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, B-2610, Belgium
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UMR-204 NutriPass IRD-UM-SupAgro, Montpellier 34394, France
Department of Fisheries Post-Harvest Technologies and Quality Control, Fisheries Administration, Phnom Penh 12301, Cambodia
PATH, Seattle WA 98109, USA
National Institute of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Microbiology, Havana 10300, Cuba
Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine, Havana 11400, Cuba
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Nutrients 2015, 7(4), 3000-3010;
Received: 6 February 2015 / Revised: 7 April 2015 / Accepted: 9 April 2015 / Published: 20 April 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Zinc and Human Health)
Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections and zinc deficiency are often found in low- and middle-income countries and are both known to affect child growth. However, studies combining data on zinc and STH are lacking. In two studies in schoolchildren in Cuba and Cambodia, we collected data on height, STH infection and zinc concentration in either plasma (Cambodia) or hair (Cuba). We analyzed whether STH and/or zinc were associated with height for age z-scores and whether STH and zinc were associated. In Cuba, STH prevalence was 8.4%; these were mainly Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura infections. In Cambodia, STH prevalence was 16.8%, mostly caused by hookworm. In Cuban children, STH infection had a strong association with height for age (aB-0.438, p = 0.001), while hair zinc was significantly associated with height for age only in STH uninfected children. In Cambodian children, plasma zinc was associated with height for age (aB-0.033, p = 0.029), but STH infection was not. Only in Cambodia, STH infection showed an association with zinc concentration (aB-0.233, p = 0.051). Factors influencing child growth differ between populations and may depend on prevalences of STH species and zinc deficiency. Further research is needed to elucidate these relationships and their underlying mechanisms. View Full-Text
Keywords: zinc; soil-transmitted helminth infections; child; growth; height; Cambodia; Cuba zinc; soil-transmitted helminth infections; child; growth; height; Cambodia; Cuba
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De Gier, B.; Mpabanzi, L.; Vereecken, K.; Van der Werff, S.D.; D'Haese, P.C.; Fiorentino, M.; Khov, K.; Perignon, M.; Chamnan, C.; Berger, J.; Parker, M.E.; Díaz, R.J.; Núñez, F.A.; Rivero, L.R.; Gorbea, M.B.; Doak, C.M.; Ponce, M.C.; Wieringa, F.T.; Polman, K. Height, Zinc and Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infections in Schoolchildren: A Study in Cuba and Cambodia. Nutrients 2015, 7, 3000-3010.

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