Article Type

Original Study


Objective This study aimed to show the effect of zinc supplementation on growth and development in preterm neonates in the first 6 months of life. Background Preterm infants have impaired zinc status because of low body stores as 60% of fetal zinc is acquired during the third trimester of pregnancy in addition to their limited capacity to absorb and retain micronutrients, coupled with increased endogenous losses associated with organ immaturity. Patients and methods The present study was carried out in the Department of Obstetrics in Nasr City Health Insurance Hospital on 80 healthy preterm infants between 32 and 36 weeks of age divided into two groups: a zinc-supplemented group fed with breast milk, and supplemented with multivitamins and zinc (2 mg/kg/day) since the first day of life, and a non-zinc-supplemented group fed breast milk with multivitamins only (without zinc supplementation). Both groups were followed for 6 months for growth with assessment of development by the Age and Stage Questionnaire at 4 and 6 months of corrected age and serum levels of zinc, alkaline phosphatase, and hemoglobin at corrected age of 3 and 6 months. Results The zinc-supplemented group showed a significant increase (P < 0.001) in both weight and length (figures and centiles) at chronological ages of 3 and 6 months and acquired higher head circumference centiles compared with the non-zinc-supplemented group. There was a highly significant increase in the serum zinc levels of the zinc-supplemented group compared with the non-zinc-supplemented group, in addition to a significant positive correlation between zinc level and both weight and length at 3 and 6 months of age. Also, the developmental score of the zinc-supplemented group was significantly higher (P < 0.001) than that of the non-zinc-supplemented group in all tested domains. Conclusion Zinc supplementation in the first 6 months of life was found to be an effective enhancer for both the growth and the development of preterm infants.