Low zinc levels in hair linked to neural tube defects

המידע באדיבות מדיקונטקסט
Last Updated: 2001-07-17 10:30:21 EDT (Reuters Health)

DELHI (Reuters Health) – A study conducted in Delhi, India has documented an association between neural tube defects and low zinc levels in mothers' and neonates' hair.

Although folic acid supplements are given in pregnancy, trace element supplements are not recommended, Dr. M. Srinivas, of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and colleagues note in the June issue of Indian Journal of Pediatrics. This and the fact that zinc deficiency has been known to produce congenital abnormalities in animal studies prompted them to study the link between zinc and neural tube defects.

Using atomic absorption spectrophotometry, Dr. Srinivas and his team evaluated the serum and hair zinc levels in 80 neonates born with neural tube defects and their mothers. An equal number of normal mother-infant pairs served as controls. Assuming a hair growth of 0.4 mm per day, maternal hair samples were taken 10 cm from the scalp so as to estimate what the status was in the first trimester of pregnancy.

The mean zinc level in serum and hair of the healthy neonates was 77.8 and 188.8 µg/L, respectively, and in their mothers it was 74.1 and 142.3 µg/L. In the neonates with neural tube defects, the corresponding figures were 80.1 and 174.2 µg/L, and in their mothers 75.7 and 129.9 µg/L.

"The hair zinc levels of the affected babies and their mothers were significantly lower (P < 0.001) than the controls," the researchers report.

They postulate that the role of zinc as a co-factor of various enzymes involved in nucleic acid metabolism could possibly explain the link with birth defects. While recommending larger controlled studies, the researchers suggest a possible role for zinc supplementation in pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects.

Indian J Pediatr 2001;68:519-522.

-Westport Newsroom 203 319 2700

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