Background: Selenium is of fundamental importance to health, being an essential trace element involved in many immunological, endocrine, and antioxidant pathways. Its deficiency is associated with growth failure, poor immune function, cognitive decline and increased risk of morbidity and mortality especially among school aged children.
The study aims at determining the serum level of selenium among primary school pupils in Ogbomoso North Local Government Area and its correlations with their socioeconomic characteristics and the anthropometric indices.
Method: Children aged 6 to 12 years old were recruited from registered public and private primary schools. A semi-structured questionnaire designed for the study was used to obtain relevant data. Serum selenium levels was estimated using Human Selenium Binding Protein. Chi-square test of independence was used to examine the association between selenium levels and each of socio-demographic variables and anthropometric indices while Pearson moment correlation was used to determine the correlation between selenium levels and socio-demographic characteristics and anthropometric indices of the study population.
Results: The mean age of the subjects was 8.35 ± 1.61 years. Majority (86.7%) of the subjects were from middle and high socio-economic classes. The prevalence of stunting, underweight, overweight and obesity was found to be 8.8%, 4.3%, 1.8% and 2.0% respectively. The mean serum selenium concentration was 0.51 ± 0.30ng/ml while mean serum albumin was 40.4 ± 8.13 g/l. Selenium deficiency was 36.5% and low serum protein and albumin was found in 15.1% and 27% of the study population respectively.
Serum selenium level was significantly associated with age, family size and gender. There was a negative correlation between age group, family size and serum selenium levels while a positive correlation exist between socio-economic class and selenium levels. Weight-for age and height-for-age has a positive correlation with selenium levels while stunting and selenium levels were negatively correlated.
Conclusion: Prevalence of selenium deficiency is high among subjects and it is an important public health challenge in the country. Socio-demographic characteristics like age, family size, gender and socio-economic class are significantly associated with selenium status of the school children. Selenium deficiency was significantly related to the nutritional status of the study population.