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Abstract

Purpose: to evaluate the serum levels of micronutrients in children with nutritional disorders, and to find if there is a direct correlation between them and the anthropometric measurements. Materials and methods: the study was conducted on 125 children (0-18 years); the working group consisted in children with Z-score < -2 standard deviations for at least one anthropometric measurement, while the children without growth disorders were considered as controls. Thus, for each anthropometric measurement, we had different working/control groups that were used for the assessment of correlation with laboratory findings. We followed eight anthropometric parameters and their relation with five of the micronutrients (Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn and Cu). Results: no statistical differences were found in micronutrients serum levels between genders or provenance. Most mean serum levels of micronutrients were lower in the children with Z-scores < -2 standard deviations (except Cu). Mg and Ca were positively correlated with most of the anthropometric measurements. For Fe, Zn and Cu, we found no correlation with any of the anthropometric measures. Differences in mean serum levels were found for Mg, with lower values in children with low weight-forage and triceps-skinfold-thickness, and for Cu, with higher levels in children with low triceps-skinfold-thickness. The red blood cell indices were positively associated with Fe and Zn levels. Conclusions: correlations between the serum level of micronutrients and anthropometric evaluation scores were found for Mg and Ca, but not for Fe and Zn, which were instead directly correlated with red blood cells indices. Mg, Fe and Zn tend to present small serum values in children with growth deficits. Considering the costs, the routine evaluation of Zn and Cu serum levels in growth disorder suspicion is not justified in our geographic area.

; although weight-for-age is the most common anthropometric indicator used worldwide, it tends to conflate weight- and height-related growth deficits or excesses ( Garza and de Onis, 2007 ). More specifically, low weight-for-age can reflect both wasting (low weight for height) and stunting (low height-for-age), rendering it ineffective in distinguishing between temporary and long-term nutritional deficits. Height-for-age is generally viewed as the most appropriate measure to use as a proxy for child nutritional status ( Charmarbagwala et al., 2004 ) and reflects the