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Maternal Plasma Selenium and the Occurrence of Infection Symptoms among Women at Six and Twelve Months Postpartum †

School of Health Sciences, College of Health, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
School of Food and Advanced Technology, College of Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 2022, Wellington, New Zealand, 1–2 December 2022.
Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18(1), 30;
Published: 3 April 2023


Selenium is essential for human health because it produces selenoproteins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory roles. Recently published data have suggested high selenium status (high hair selenium concentration) improved outcomes in patients with COVID-19 infections. Our objective was to investigate the occurrence of infectious symptoms and selenium status among postpartum women. This is a secondary analysis of data collected in the Mother and Infant Nutrition Investigation—an observational, longitudinal cohort study spanning the first postpartum year of mother and infant pairs (n = 87) in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Plasma selenium was measured in women at six months postpartum (6MPP), and the validated Carr Infection Symptom Checklist (CISC) measured the type and frequency of infection symptoms experienced at 6MPP and twelve months postpartum (12MPP). The checklist contains 30 symptoms of infection; each symptom is scored from 0 (no symptoms) to 4 (severe symptoms), thus the possible total score ranges from zero to 120. The data were expressed as the median (q25, q75). The median maternal plasma selenium was 105.8 (95.6, 115.3) µg/L, with 41% of women meeting the criteria for the maximum expression of selenoprotein P (>110 µg/L). The median CISC scores were 12 (8, 18) at 6MPP and 13 (8, 21) at 12MPP, which were weakly correlated (r = 0.363, p = 0.002). Plasma selenium levels among women with a low CISC score ≤ 15 (n = 56) at 6MPP were significantly higher (110.05 µg/L) than those women with a high score of symptoms of infection (score > 15, n = 23) at 102.18 µg/L (p = 0.048, Mann–Whitney U test). Further research is warranted to investigate whether higher plasma selenium levels contribute to a lower rate of maternal infection during the postpartum period. The association between wider selenium biomarkers and maternal immune function should be determined by examining inflammatory markers or immunoglobulin concentrations.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, methodology, validation, Y.J., J.C. and L.B.; formal analysis and data curation, Y.J.; investigation, Y.J., J.C. and L.B.; writing—original draft preparation, Y.J.; writing—review and editing, Y.J., J.C. and L.B.; visualization, Y.J.; supervision, J.C. and L.B.; project administration, Y.J.; funding acquisition, J.C. and L.B. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received funding from the Oakley Mental Health Fund (no number, 2017) and the Massey University Research Fund (no number, 2018). The funding bodies played no role in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data or in the writing of the abstract.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted in accordance with and approved by the Health and Disability Ethics Committee (reference 15/NTA/172).

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all participants involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The data are not publicly available due to privacy and ethical restrictions.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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MDPI and ACS Style

Jin, Y.; Coad, J.; Brough, L. Maternal Plasma Selenium and the Occurrence of Infection Symptoms among Women at Six and Twelve Months Postpartum. Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18, 30.

AMA Style

Jin Y, Coad J, Brough L. Maternal Plasma Selenium and the Occurrence of Infection Symptoms among Women at Six and Twelve Months Postpartum. Medical Sciences Forum. 2023; 18(1):30.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Jin, Ying, Jane Coad, and Louise Brough. 2023. "Maternal Plasma Selenium and the Occurrence of Infection Symptoms among Women at Six and Twelve Months Postpartum" Medical Sciences Forum 18, no. 1: 30.

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