Korean J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr.  2008 Sep;11(2):122-129.

Trace Elements Deficiency and the Diagnostic Usefulness of Hair Mineral Analysis in Children with Chronic Gastrointestinal Disease

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. jkseo@snu.ac.kr
  • 2Gyeonggi Provincial Medical Center Pocheon Hostpial, Korea.
  • 3Department of Pediatrics, Konkuk University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


PURPOSE: Patients with chronic gastrointestinal disease are at risk for trace element deficiency due to impaired absorption and gastrointestinal loss. The aim of this study was to evaluate the trace element status of patients with gastrointestinal disease by blood and hair analysis, and to determine the usefulness of hair mineral analysis for diagnosing trace element deficiency not detected by a blood test.
An analysis of hair minerals was performed and compared with blood mineral analysis in 13 patients with chronic gastrointestinal disease. The concentration of each element in the hair and blood was compared in the subgroups based on parenteral nutritional support or clinical symptoms.
Almost all patients had trace element deficiency. The trace elements deficient in the blood or hair analysis included zinc, selenium and copper. The hair zinc concentration was significantly lower in the group receiving parenteral nutritional support. The hair selenium concentration was statistically associated with the clinical symptoms of hair loss, brittle hair and loss of hair pigmentation.
The results of this study suggest that patients with chronic gastrointestinal disease should receive adequate zinc and selenium replacement to avoid trace element deficiency especially when treated with long-term parenteral nutrition. Hair mineral analysis is useful as a complementary tool for the detection of a trace element deficiency.


Chronic gastrointestinal disease; Trace element deficiency; Hair analysis
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