Pregnancy Maternal Fetal and Infant Health

Few firm conclusions can be made as to the consequences of zinc deficiency during pregnancy on

Maternal zinc

Maternal zinc

Maternal health

• Pregnancy-induced hypertension*

deficiency

Fetal development

• Reduced gestational age

• Impaired fetal bone development

• Impaired neurobehavioral development

Neonatal health

• Lower birth weight

• Lower Apgar score

• Increased incidence of cleft lip/palate

• Impaired immune function t

Maternal health

• Pregnancy-induced hypertension*

Infant health

• Impaired growth (6-12 months of age)

• Higher prevalence of diarrhea or other infections

Figure 1 Several consequences of maternal zinc deficiency during pregnancy on maternal health, fetal development, and infant health have been observed in developing and more industrialized countries. These consequences have been confirmed by randomized, placebo-controlled trials of maternal zinc supplementation. Not all of the consequences have been observed in all studies, and the reasons for inconsistent results among studies are not well understood. *Determined from studies in industrialized countries only.

maternal, fetal, and infant health. Results from zinc supplementation trials have been inconsistent and therefore difficult to interpret. This may be partly attributed to inadequate study design or failure to consider the zinc status of the women studied. Most earlier studies focused on the evaluation of gesta-tional age and birth weight as primary outcomes. However, zinc deficiency may also manifest itself in more specific qualities of health and development of the fetus and infant, as summarized in Figure 1. While there is some evidence from industrialized countries that zinc deficiency contributes to complications during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum, these outcomes have not been adequately studied in developing countries.

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