Lower serum selenium concentration associated with anxiety in children

J Pediatr Nurs. 2022 Mar-Apr:63:e121-e126. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2021.09.026. Epub 2021 Oct 20.


Purpose: Few studies have examined the role of selenium in anxiety. This study aimed to evaluate the association between serum selenium concentrations and anxiety disorders and symptoms in children.

Design and methods: This study utilized data from 831 children participating in the China Jintan Child Cohort Study (mean age = 12.67 years; 46.1% female). Serum selenium samples were collected and anxiety was assessed using the Chinese version of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders. Six types of anxiety scores were calculated, including total anxiety, panic/somatic, generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, social anxiety, and school phobia.

Results: Controlling for covariates, children with lower serum selenium concentrations were more likely to meet clinical cutoffs for total anxiety (OR = 0.992, p < 0.01), panic/somatic disorder (OR = 0.993, p < 0.05), generalized anxiety disorder (OR = 0.990, p < 0.05), social anxiety disorder (OR = 0.991, p < 0.01), and school phobia (OR = 0.989, p < 0.01), but not separation anxiety (OR = 1.000, p > 0.05). Controlling for covariates, lower serum selenium concentrations were also associated with higher continuous total anxiety, generalized anxiety, and school phobia scores (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Lower serum selenium concentrations were associated with higher anxiety. To our knowledge, this was the first study to examine the relationship between serum selenium and anxiety disorders in a sample of children. Results indicate an association between children's micronutrient levels and anxiety disorders.

Practice implications: Improving child nutrition may be a promising strategy to help reduce childhood anxiety.

Keywords: Anxiety; Child mental health; Micronutrients; Nutrition; Serum selenium.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Panic Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Selenium*


  • Selenium