Dietary, socio-economic and demographic factors influencing serum zinc levels of pregnant women at Naivasha level 4 hospital Nakuru County, Kenya
Mitheko, Agnes Ndutah
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Zinc is an essential micronutrient for human health. Its numerous structural and biochemical functions at the cellular and sub cellular level makes it very important during pregnancy. Maternal serum Zn levels at the time of conception and in pregnancy plays a major role in maternal and child health. It is an important determinant of foetal growth and development. Despite availability of data to demonstrate widespread micronutrient deficiency in pregnancy, minimal studies have examined the status of zinc among pregnant women. Hence the present study was undertaken. The objectives of the study were to determine serum zinc levels of pregnant women and to establish dietary, socio-economic and demographic factors influencing serum zinc levels of pregnant women in Naivasha. To achieve this, a cross sectional analytical study design was conducted amongst 172 pregnant women attending antenatal clinic (ANC) at Naivasha level 4 hospital. A systematic random sampling was applied to obtain the sample size. Dietary intake was assessed using 24-hr dietary recall and Food Frequency Questionnaire method. Serum zinc levels were analyzed by atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS). Quantitative data obtained was analyzed using SPSS computer software .Means, SEM and ANOVA were used for continuous variables. Regression analysis was applied on categorical factors influencing serum zinc levels and a p value of < 0.05 statistical significant at 95% confidence level was used. The study found a mean serum zinc level of 66 μg/dl (+ 14 SD) ranging between 39 to 123 μg/dl, with a prevalence of 66.9%. About 75.0% of the participants were in low socio-economic class. Dietary zinc intake was not significantly associated with ZD, but women consuming Vitamin C below the recommended dietary allowance had 2.62-fold risk (95% CI: 0.55 – 12.37) of becoming ZD. Parity was significantly associated with ZD (AOR=3.65; 95% CI: 1.27 – 10.49; p=0.016. The study therefore concludes that the high prevalence of zinc deficiency is of public health concern in the area, which could be due to high consumption of cereals, carbohydrates and legumes which are high in zinc inhibitors. This may be addressed through a combination of short, medium and long term strategies which includes adoption of traditional household food processing techniques such as fermentation, sprouting and germination to increase absorbable rate of dietary zinc from plant foods, economic empowerment and livelihood promotion among women.