Zinc deficiency can occur in infants and children as a result of inadequate dietary zinc intake, disturbed zinc metabolism secondary to numerous disease states, and an inherited defect in zinc metabolism in acrodermatitis enteropathica. In the latter condition, the effects of zinc therapy are dramatic and potentially lifesaving. Symptoms can also be severe in conditioned zinc deficiency states, and it is clinically important to recognize the need for zinc therapy in this condition. Clinically less severe, but probably much more widespread, is marginal nutritional zinc deficiency. Although the extent of this condition is unknown, some preventative measures have recently been undertaken, including zinc supplementation of "low-zinc" infant formulas and zinc fortification of some ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. But the effectiveness of these measures will have to be assessed.
The possibility of zinc deficiency should be considered in infants and children whose growth percentile declines, even those who seem otherwise healthy.
- Copyright © 1978 by the American Academy of Pediatrics