The risk of selenium deficiency in Malawi is large and varies over multiple spatial scales

Phiri, Felix P.; Ander, E. Louise; Bailey, Elizabeth H.; Chilima, Benson; Chilimba, Allan D. C.; Gondwe, Jellita; Joy, Edward J.M.; Kalimbira, Alexander A.; Kumssa, Diriba B.; Lark, R. Murray; Phuka, John C.; Salter, Andrew; Suchdev, Parminder S.; Watts, Michael J.; Young, Scott D.; Broadley, Martin R.. 2019 The risk of selenium deficiency in Malawi is large and varies over multiple spatial scales. Scientific Reports, 9 (1), 6566.

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Selenium (Se) is an essential human micronutrient. Deficiency of Se decreases the activity of selenoproteins and can compromise immune and thyroid function and cognitive development, and increase risks from non-communicable diseases. The prevalence of Se deficiency is unknown in many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Here we report that the risk of Se deficiency in Malawi is large among a nationally representative population of 2,761 people. For example, 62.5% and 29.6% of women of reproductive age (WRA, n = 802) had plasma Se concentrations below the thresholds for the optimal activity of the selenoproteins glutathione peroxidase 3 (GPx3; <86.9 ng mL−1) and iodothyronine deiodinase (IDI; <64.8 ng mL−1), respectively. This is the first nationally representative evidence of widespread Se deficiency in SSA. Geostatistical modelling shows that Se deficiency risks are influenced by soil type, and also by proximity to Lake Malawi where more fish is likely to be consumed. Selenium deficiency should be quantified more widely in existing national micronutrient surveillance programmes in SSA given the marginal additional cost this would incur.

Item Type: Publication - Article
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ISSN: 2045-2322
Date made live: 01 Aug 2019 14:25 +0 (UTC)

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