There is paucity of data on the pattern of serum lipids in malnourished children in Zaria. Most of the reported studies were carried out in southern part of Nigeria. The overall objective of this study was therefore to measure serum lipids in children with PEM in Zaria with the view to recommending its use in them.
Serum lipids were measured in 115 children presenting with PEM and 115 age- and sex-matched well nourished controls aged 6-36 months .The malnourished children consisted of 25, 30, 30 and 30 children with kwashiorkor, marasmic-kwashiorkor, marasmus and underweight respectively. There were 60 males and 55 females. Serum total cholesterol(TC),high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and triglyceride(TG) were measured by enzymatic colorimetric methods of serum low density lipoprotein cholesterol(LDL-C) and very low density lipoprotein cholesterol(VLDL-C) were estimated using Friedewald formula.
Serum TC, LDL-C and HDL-C levels were significantly lower (p<0.01, p<0.05 and p<0.001 respectively), while the ratio TC/HDL-C was significantly higher (p<0.001) in children with PEM than in their well-nourished counterparts. Concentrations of serum TG and VLDL-C were apparently but not significantly lower in children with PEM than in well-fed children (p>0.05).Serum levels of TC, LDL-C and HDL-C were significantly higher (p<0.001, p<0.001 and p<0.01 respectively) in oedematous PEM patients than in their non-oedematous counterparts. Serum TG and VLDL-C values were apparently but not significantly higher in oedematous PEM patients than in non-oedematous ones.
There was a significant reduction in serum lipid concentrations in children with PEM. The study therefore suggests that measurement of serum lipids could be of importance in the assessment of childhood malnutrition.