Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at high risk for nutritional deficiencies because of long-term inflammation in the gut mucosa and decreased oral intake. Because inflammation responses affect serum micronutrient concentrations, serum levels are limited in reflecting body nutrient status in acute and chronic illness. We investigated the usefulness of measuring trace elements in hair as reliable markers of nutritional status compared to serum levels in children with IBD. We retrospectively analyzed pediatric patients newly diagnosed with Crohn's disease (n = 49) and ulcerative colitis (n = 16) and controls (n = 29) from 2012 to 2016. Serum micronutrient levels, inflammatory markers, and hair trace element content were evaluated and compared at the time of diagnosis and before initiating treatment. Serum calcium (p < 0.001), iron (p < 0.001), zinc (p = 0.013), selenium (p = 0.008), albumin (p < 0.001), prealbumin (p < 0.001), hemoglobin and hematocrit (p < 0.001), and WBC (p = 0.001) and lymphocytes (p < 0.001) differed significantly between the groups. After adjustment for the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, serum zinc and selenium levels were no longer significantly different between the groups (p < 0.062 and p < 0.057, respectively). Following hair analysis for mineral and trace elements, iron (p = 0.033), selenium (p = 0.017), and manganese (p = 0.009) differed significantly between the groups. Serum micronutrient levels need cautious interpretation in conjunction with inflammatory markers. Hair mineral and trace element measurement may support understanding micronutrient status in children with IBD.
Keywords: Child; Hair minerals; Inflammatory bowel disease; Serum; Trace elements.