Anthropometric and hematological tests to diagnose nutritional deficiencies in schoolchildren of indigenous communities living in the Andean region of Ecuador

ABSTRACT Objective To carry out the anthropometric and biometric-hematological assessments in schoolchildren of the Andean region of Ecuador, in order to improve the diagnosis of nutritional deficiencies. Methods The study has been carried out in the San Juan School (Chimborazo, Ecuador), located at 3,240m of altitude, to 36 children of 5 and 6 years old. Anthropometric analyses (weight, height and body mass index), and hematocrit and hemoglobin concentrations were measured. The hemoglobin measurement was evaluated considering the normal value and the one adapted to the altitude of the area. Results The schoolchildren showed high prevalence of stunting (44%). The values of hematocrit (.=0.001) and hemoglobin (.=0.003) were higher in girls. It should be highlighted that using the normal value of hemoglobin, anemia was not detected. However almost a fifth of the schoolchildren studied were diagnosed with anemia when we applied the correction factors adapted to the altitude. Conclusion The use of correction factors adapted to the altitude is considered essential to do the hematology test in populations that live in high altitude in order to avoid a false diagnosis. Moreover, it is necessary to establish the environmental factors related to the stunted growth of this population of the Andean region.