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Zinc Update: Genetic zinc deficiency in infants and children
eMediNexus,  22 November 2020
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Zinc nutrition is very important in infants and children. Zinc deficiency can be due to poor zinc absorption, which leads to a extensive range of consequences such as diarrhoea, alopecia, skin lesions, loss of appetite, taste disorders, impaired immune function and neuropsychiatric changes with growth retardation, consequently potentially a risk to life of infants and children. Furthermore, due to dietary deficiency of zinc, inherited zinc deficiency, which occurs rarely, is generally found in the infant period and early childhood period. Latest molecular genetic studies have acknowledged the responsible genes for two inherited zinc deficiency disorders, transient neonatal zinc deficiency (TNZD), acrodermatitis enteropathica (AE), describing the pathological mechanisms. These two zinc deficiencies are mostly caused by mutations of zinc transporters, even though the mechanisms are totally different. AE is an autosomal recessive disorder that is caused by mutations of the ZIP4 gene, accordingly causing a defective absorption of zinc in the small intestine. In contrast, TNZD is a disorder that is caused by mutations of the ZnT2 gene, resulting in low zinc breast milk in the mother, subsequently causing zinc deficiency in the infant who is breast-fed. In both these cases, symptoms of zinc deficiency are improved by a daily oral supplementation of zinc for the patients. Zinc is certainly one of the significant factors for the healthy growth of infants and children, and therefore zinc nutrition and supplementation should gain considerable attention.

Source: Kambe T, Fukue K, Ishida R, Miyazaki S. Overview of Inherited Zinc Deficiency in Infants and Children. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2015; 61 Suppl: S44-S46. doi:10.3177/jnsv.61.S44

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