Zinc deficiency an underestimated problem

July 25, 2001

Children in Java have better resistance to disease if they take not only vitamin A and iron supplements but also extra zinc. NWO nutrition researchers have shown that shortages of vitamin A and the two minerals often occur together. Zinc deficiency appears to be a problem which has so far not been fully recognised.

Indonesian children currently receive vitamin A supplements, and pregnant women are given extra iron and folic acid. This is insufficient, and much too one-sided, according to the nutritionists, who say that it would be more effective to provide the three supplements in combination. Up to now, little attention has been paid to the body's zinc requirement because it is difficult to measure zinc levels in the blood.

The NWO team presented their findings at a congress in Wageningen in mid-June which was devoted entirely to the effects of zinc deficiency during pregnancy. They have discovered that the immune system of young children shows a clear reaction to shortages of one of the three substances. Nutrition experts already knew that iron was necessary for effective resistance to disease. Research has shown that zinc deficiency leads to a reduction in the number of white blood cells and that a lack of vitamin A weakens the cell's immune response. Children probably have better resistance to disease if they consume enough iron, zinc and vitamin A.

It is vital for the health of new-born babies that their mothers receive the three nutritional supplements during pregnancy, but with betacarotene instead of vitamin A. Vitamin A should be avoided during pregnancy. Measured at the age of six months, the children of women who have received the three supplements are less prone to deficiencies. They receive a supply from their mother when they are born and her milk also appears to provide all three substances.

Zinc deficiency in developing countries is often due to the same causes as iron deficiency. It is the result of one-sided nutrition consisting of cereals, pulses and vegetables, without animal products. This type of diet contains a lot of phytates which bind iron and zinc and make it difficult for the blood to absorb them. Half of all pregnant women in developing countries suffer from anaemia because of a deficiency of iron. The NWO study indicates that a shortage of zinc might be just as common.
-end-


Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.