Zinc supplementation and growth of the fetus and low birth weight infant

The Journal of Nutrition
C Castillo-Durán, Gerardo Weisstaub


Zinc deficiency limits growth in young children, and in animal models it also affects fetal growth. In animals, the effect of severe zinc deficiency on growth is evident. However, controlled trials of zinc supplementation during pregnancy in humans have not demonstrated consistent effects on weight at birth and/or duration of gestation. Those studies that have identified a positive effect of zinc on fetal growth were performed on low-socioeconomic or migrant groups in industrialized countries or in countries where diet and living conditions are improving. In contrast, in studies conducted either on populations with minimal risk of zinc deficiency or those suffering from multiple and severe nutritional deficiencies, no effects have been found. The potential confounding factors that may help explain the contradictory results include the following: age of pregnant women; presence of digestive diseases, other nutritional deficiencies, phytates or other factors that affect bioavailability; timing and duration of zinc supplementation and compliance with supplements. Few studies of zinc supplementation were conducted on infants that were born small for their gestational age or preterm; in this case, a positive effect on growth was sho...Continue Reading


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