To examine the micronutrient status of disadvantaged pre-schoolers from Northeast Brazil, following the introduction of pro-poor policies, by assessing the prevalence of anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies and the role of sociodemographic factors, genetic Hb disorders and parasitic infections.
In a cross-sectional study, data on sociodemographic status, health, growth, genetic Hb disorders, parasites and nutrient supply from day-care meals were obtained. Fasting blood samples were collected and analysed for Hb, serum ferritin, transferrin receptor, folate, vitamin B12, retinol, Zn and Se.
Seven philanthropic day-care centres serving urban slums in Salvador, Northeast Brazil.
Pre-schoolers aged 3–6 years from disadvantaged households.
Of the 376 sampled children, 94 % were of black or mixed race; 33 % and 29 % had at least one genetic Hb disorder and intestinal parasite, respectively. Stunting and underweight were ≤5 %; 14 % were overweight. Day-care centres supplied micronutrient-dense meals and snacks each weekday. Less than 10 % of pre-schoolers had anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies. Predictors (P < 0·05) of Hb were α3·7 thalassaemia, Se and retinol (but not ferritin). Micronutrient predictors (P < 0·05) were: elevated α1-glycoprotein for ferritin, Hb AS and BMI Z-score >1 for transferrin receptor, Zn and elevated α1-glycoprotein for retinol, sex and helminths for Se, helminths for vitamin B12, and Giardia intestinalis infection for serum folate.
Impaired growth, anaemia and micronutrient deficiencies were uncommon among these disadvantaged pre-schoolers attending day care. A range of interventions including provision of micronutrient-dense, fortified day-care meals, deworming and vitamin A supplementation likely contributed to improved micronutrient status, suggesting expanded coverage of these programmes.