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Thesis (M.S.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1965. Department of Home Economics.


Copyright 1965, the author. Used by permission.


The purpose of this investigation was to observe the nutritional status of two groups of preschool children from widely different socioeconomic backgrounds.Hemoglobin and hematocrit concentrations in blood and urinary excretion of riboflavin and thiamine were used as indices of nutritional status. These measures were related to intake of various nutrients, to caloric intake, body size and to urinary creatinine and nitrogen excretions.The usefulness of these measures in differentiating various states of nutritional adequacy was evaluated.

The sample consisted of 40 children, 3 ½ to 5 ½ years of age, all residents of Lincoln, Nebraska.Twenty of the children were enrolled in the preschool program of the Human Development Laboratory, University of Nebraska, and came from families of middle to upper middle income level. The remaining children were from low income families, most of whom were receiving public assistance of some type. Data on actual family income were not obtained but the two groups have been designated as high-income and low-income for purposes of this report.The group consisted of 21 girls and 19 boys.A preliminary questionnaire filled out by the mother gave some information about the family and the child. The main differences between the two groups other than socio-economic status were: (1) education of the mother, the high-income group averaging 15 years and the low-income, 10; (2) the birth weights of the children, 8 pounds average for the high-income and 7 pounds for the low-income group; and (3) the use of vitamin supplements, 13 children in the high-income group receiving supplements and 5 in the low-income group.

Information concerning dietary intakes of children was obtained from 3-day food records.The person in the home responsible for feeding the child was given careful instructions concerning the record to be kept.These records were checked for accuracy and completeness and picked up daily.The dietary records were calculated for content of calories, protein, fat, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin A and ascorbic acid by use of standard tables of food composition.Information concerning vitamin supplements was obtained with particular regard for kind of supplement and dosage.

Three 24-hour urine collections were obtained from each child for riboflavin and thiamine analysis.Written and verbal instructions were given to the mother regarding procedure for collecting the 24-hour sample.If possible, collections were made on the same days as the food records were kept.Brown jars containing a few milliliters of 2.5 N hydrochloric acid were provided for the collections.These were brought to the laboratory each day, volumes measured, the samples acidified and a suitable aliquot frozen until time of analysis.

Blood samples for hemoglobin and hematocrit determinations were obtained from thirty-eight of the children. Small groups of the children were brought to the Nutrition Research laboratory where physical measurements were made and a sample of blood obtained for analysis, with the parent’s permission.Blood was drawn and the samples analyzed by a medical technician from a local hospital. Advisor: Hazel M. Fox