Disadvantaged black and coloured infants in two urban communities in the Western Cape, South Africa differ in micronutrient status

A. Oelofse, J.M. van Raaij, A.J. Benade, M.A. Dhansay, J.J. Tolboom, J.G.A.J. Hautvast

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To determine the nutritional and health status of urban infants in two disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape, South Africa with special reference to micronutrient status. The results of this study will serve to plan an intervention study in these communities in the same age group. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Two disadvantaged urban black and 'coloured' communities in the Western Cape, South Africa. Subjects: Sixty infants aged 6-12 months from each community. Outcome measures: Dietary intake, anthropometric measurements, micronutrient status and psychomotor development. Results: Stunting and underweight were more prevalent in coloured infants (18% and 7%, respectively) than in black infants (8% and 2%, respectively). Anaemia (haemoglobin (Hb) < 11 g dl-1) was prevalent in 64% of coloured and 83% of black infants. Iron-deficiency anaemia (Hb < 11 g dl-1 and ferritin < 10 ng ml-1) was found in 32% of coloured infants and in 46% of black infants. Zinc deficiency was prevalent in 35% and 33% of the coloured and black infants, respectively. Marginal vitamin A deficiency (serum retinol < 20 μgdl-1) was observed in 23% of black infants compared with 2% of coloured infants. Of black infants, 43% and of coloured infants 6% were deficient in two or more micronutrients. Six per cent of coloured infants had C-reactive protein concentrations above 5 mg 1-1 compared with 38% of the black infants. The dietary intake of micronutrients was in general lower in black infants than in coloured infants. The overall psychomotor development, assessed by the Denver Developmental Screening Test, was different between the two groups. The coloured infants scored higher in three out of the four categories as well as in their overall score. Conclusions: This study shows that information on stunting and wasting only in urban disadvantaged infants is not sufficient to make recommendations about specific community intervention programmes. Information on the micronutrient status, independent of wasting and stunting, is necessary to design nutrition programmes for different communities. The study also showed a substantially higher prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies among black infants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-294
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Diet
  • Infant nutrition
  • Iron deficiency
  • Micronutrients
  • Nutritional status
  • Urban
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc


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