Associations among High-Quality Protein and Energy Intake, Serum Transthyretin, Serum Amino Acids and Linear Growth of Children in Ethiopia

Masresha Tessema*, Nilupa S. Gunaratna, Inge D. Brouwer, Katherine Donato, Jessica L. Cohen, Margaret McConnell, Tefera Belachew, Demissie Belayneh, Hugo De Groote

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Limited evidence is available on the associations of high-quality protein and energy intake, serum transthyretin (TTR), serum amino acids and serum insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) with linear growth of young children. Data collected during the baseline of a randomized control trial involving rural Ethiopian children aged 6⁻35 months (n = 873) were analyzed to evaluate the associations among height/length-for-age z-scores, dietary intakes, and these biomarkers (i.e., serum level of TTR, IGF-1, tryptophan and lysine, and inflammation). The prevalence of stunting was higher for children >23 months (38%) than ≤23 months (25%). The prevalence of inflammation was 35% and of intestinal parasites 48%. Three-quarters of the children were energy deficient, and stunted children had lower daily energy intake that non-stunted children (p < 0.05). Intakes of tryptophan, protein, and energy, and serum levels of tryptophan and IGF-1 were positively correlated with the linear growth of children. Controlling for inflammation, intestinal parasites, and sociodemographic characteristics, daily tryptophan (b = 0.01, p = 0.001), protein (b = 0.01, p = 0.01) and energy (b = 0.0003, p = 0.04) intakes and serum TTR (b = 2.58, p = 0.04) and IGF-1 (b = 0.01, p = 0.003) were positively associated with linear growth of children. Linear growth failure in Ethiopian children is likely associated with low quality protein intake and inadequate energy intake. Nutrition programs that emphasize improved protein quantity and quality and energy intake may enhance the linear growth of young children and need to be further investigated in longitudinal and interventional studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1776
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2018


  • energy intake
  • Ethiopia
  • inflammation
  • linear growth
  • protein intake
  • protein quality
  • serum IGF-1
  • serum transthyretin


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