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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Health and Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Teresa Kemmer


Zinc, Deficiency, Honduras, Malnutrition, Underweight, Stunting, Wasting, Montaña de la Flor, Tolupan Indians


Background: Zinc is an essential trace mineral and its importance in growth and immune function has been established in young children; however, little is known about the prevalence of zinc deficiency in Honduras.
Purpose: The purpose was to determine 1) the prevalence of zinc deficiency and its association with child growth parameters and 2) demographic, socioeconomic, health, and nutrition risk factors associated with zinc deficiency within children aged 6-60 months in rural Honduras.
Design: The randomized cross-sectional study was conducted in two rural Honduran health regions: Montaña de la Flor and Santa Maria. Hair samples were used to determine zinc status. <-2 z-score was used to determine stunting (height-for-age); wasting (weightfor- height); and underweight (weight-for-age). Zinc deficiency was defined as <70 μg/g and marginal deficiency as 70-100 μg/g. Bivariate correlations and chi square analysis were used to determine associations between zinc metrics and growth status.
Results: There were 217 children aged 6-60 months (56.7% female) that participated. Hair samples were obtained from 179 children. Fifteen percent of children were zinc deficient and 26% were marginally deficient. Sixty percent of children were stunted, 4% wasted, and 16% underweight. No statistically significant associations were seen between zinc deficiency and growth status or gender.
Conclusion: There was a high prevalence of zinc deficiency and a very high prevalence of stunting within children in the regions evaluated. This information will be used to support the Honduran Ministry of Health’s goal of improving the nutritional status of children and will help direct limited resources and nutrition programs to areas most in need.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Zinc deficiency diseases -- Honduras.
Trace element deficiency diseases in children -- Honduras.
Children -- Nutrition -- Honduras.
Children -- Growth.


Includes bibliographical references.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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