Aims Zinc deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries. Maternal zinc deficiency is associated with foetal growth retardation and other adverse foetal outcomes. The study aimed to determine serum zinc concentrations of study subjects, provide much needed information on the prevalence of both maternal and cord blood zinc deficiency, as well as the relationship between maternal and cord blood zinc levels.
Methods This cross-sectional study was conducted with 386 consecutive pregnant women recruited at term (37–42 weeks gestation). Maternal and cord blood samples were taken at delivery. Estimation of serum zinc concentration was by atomic absorption spectrophotometry.
Results The mean serum zinc concentration in the maternal blood and cord blood were 9.0 (6.1) mmol/L and 13.1 (7.8) mmol/L respectively. One hundred and ninety-nine (51.6%) mothers had normal zinc levels while 187 (48.4%) mothers had hypozincaemia (serum zinc concentration below 7.6 µmol/L15. Also, 233 (60.4%) of the 386 babies had normal zinc levels while 153 (39.6%) had hypozincaemia (serum zinc concentration below 9.9 mmol/L)15. The mean cord serum zinc concentration was significantly higher than maternal serum zinc concentration (t = 33.12, p = 0.000). There was a significant association between the prevalence of low maternal and cord serum zinc levels; and normal maternal and cord serum zinc levels (X2 = 71.105, df = 1, p = 0.000) (Table 1). There was a positive correlation between paired maternal and cord blood zinc concentrations (r = 0.403, p = 0.000) (Figure 1). No significant correlation existed between gestational age and serum zinc levels in the maternal or cord blood.
Conclusion There is a high prevalence of maternal and cord blood zinc deficiency in the study location which however did not reflect in the same magnitude in the newborn. Therefore, the role of zinc supplementation in pregnant women in developing countries still appears controversial.
Hotz C, Peerson JM, Brown KH. Suggested lower cutoffs of serum zinc cconcentrations for assessing zinc status: reanalysis of the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data (1976 - 1980). Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 78:756–764
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