Mild riboflavin deficiency is highly prevalent in school-age children but does not increase risk for anaemia in Côte d'Ivoire

Rohner, Fabian ; Zimmermann, Michael B. ; Wegmueller, Rita ; Tschannen, Andreas B. ; Hurrell, Richard F.

In: British Journal of Nutrition, 2007, vol. 97, no. 5, p. 970-976

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    There are few data on the prevalence of riboflavin deficiency in sub-Saharan Africa, and it remains unclear whether riboflavin status influences the risk for anaemia. The aims of this study were to: (1) measure the prevalence of riboflavin deficiency in children in south-central Côte d'Ivoire; (2) estimate the riboflavin content of the local diet; and (3) determine if riboflavin deficiency predicts anaemia and/or iron deficiency. In 5- to 15-year-old children (n 281), height, weight, haemoglobin (Hb), whole blood zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP), erythrocyte glutathione reductase activity coefficient (EGRAC), serum retinol, C-reactive protein (CRP) and prevalence of Plasmodium spp. (asymptomatic malaria) and Schistosoma haematobium (bilharziosis) infections were measured. Three-day weighed food records were kept in twenty-four households. Prevalence of anaemia in the sample was 52%; 59% were iron-deficient based on an elevated ZPP concentration, and 36% suffered from iron deficiency anaemia. Plasmodium parasitaemia was found in 49% of the children. Nineteen percent of the children were infected with S. haematobium. Median riboflavin intake in 5- to 15-year-old children from the food records was 0·42mg/d, ~47% of the estimated average requirement for this age group. Prevalence of riboflavin deficiency was 65%, as defined by an EGRAC value >1·2. Age, elevated CRP and iron deficiency were significant predictors of Hb. Riboflavin-deficient children free of malaria were more likely to be iron deficient (odds ratio; 3·07; 95% CI 1·12, 8·41). In conclusion, nearly two-thirds of school-age children in south-central Côte d'Ivoire are mildly riboflavin deficient. Riboflavin deficiency did not predict Hb and/or anaemia, but did predict iron deficiency among children free of malaria