Open Access Open Badges Research article

Zinc status in HIV infected Ugandan children aged 1-5 years: a cross sectional baseline survey

Grace Ndeezi12*, James K Tumwine1, Bjørn J Bolann3, Christopher M Ndugwa1 and Thorkild Tylleskär2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda

2 Centre for International Health, University of Bergen, Norway

3 Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, and Laboratory of Clinical Biochemistry, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

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BMC Pediatrics 2010, 10:68  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-68

Published: 21 September 2010



Low concentrations of serum zinc have been reported in HIV infected adults and are associated with disease progression and an increased risk of death. Few studies have been conducted in HIV infected children in Africa. We determined serum zinc levels and factors associated with zinc deficiency in HIV infected Ugandan children.


We measured the baseline zinc status of 247 children aged 1-5 years enrolled in a randomised trial for multiple micronutrient supplementation at paediatric HIV clinics in Uganda ( webcite NCT00122941). Zinc status was determined using inductively coupled atomic emission spectrophotometry (ICP-AES). Clinical and laboratory characteristics were compared among zinc deficient (zinc < 10.0 μmol/L) and non deficient children. Logistic regression was used to determine predictors of low serum zinc.


Of the 247 children, 134 (54.3%) had low serum zinc (< 10.0 μmol/L). Of the 44 children on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), 13 (29.5%) had low zinc compared to 121/203 (59.6%) who were not on HAART. Overall, independent predictors of low zinc were fever (OR 2.2; 95%CI 1.1 - 4.6) and not taking HAART (OR 3.7; 95%CI 1.8 - 7.6).


Almost two thirds of HAART naïve and a third of HAART treated HIV infected children were zinc deficient. Increased access to HAART among HIV infected children living in Uganda might reduce the prevalence of zinc deficiency.