Nutritional Status, Anemia and Eating Behavior among Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels in a Primary Health Care of Peru

The Open Public Health Journal 27 Apr 2023 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/18749445-v16-230403-2022-197



Malnutrition, anemia, and lead exposure are important public health problems.


To assess nutritional status, anemia, and eating habits and their relationship to elevated blood lead levels in children.

Materials and Methods:

Descriptive study conducted with data from children evaluated in a district of Callao, Peru. The variables studied were: nutritional status, based on anthropometric measurements; anemia, determined by blood hemoglobin concentration; dietary habits, evaluated by the 24-hour dietary recall method and food consumption frequency; and blood lead, determined by LeadCare II analyzer.

Results and Discussion:

A total of 425 children participated, with a median age of 6 years (IQR=5; Q3=9, Q1=4), 52.2% (n=222) were female and 71.3% (n=303) had blood lead level (BLL) ≥5μg/dL. Among children with BLL ≥5 μg/dL, 11.6% (n=35) presented poor nutritional status, 9.9% (n=30) had anemia, and 63% (n=191) had inadequate eating habits. Of the children with inadequate eating habits, 17.4% (n=47) had poor nutritional status and 15.9% (n=43) had anemia, compared to children with adequate eating habits (p<0.001). In children with BLL ≥5 μg/dL, the children's median hemoglobin, body weight, and height were 12.2 g/dL, 21.6 Kg, and 114.8 cm, respectively; while in those with Pb levels <5 μg/dL it was 12.5 g/dL, 29 Kg and 126.55 cm, respectively (p<0.05).


Nutritional status, anemia, and eating habits did not differ according to BLL; however, lower median hemoglobin, weight, and height were found in children with elevated lead levels. Children with subnormal nutritional status and children with anemia presented a shorter time to reach elevated blood lead levels.

Keywords: Lead poisoning, Nutritional status, Anemia, Feeding behavior, Child, Eating levels.
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