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Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Feb;75(2):300-7.

Effect of zinc supplementation on growth and body composition in children with sickle cell disease.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, 19104-4399, USA.



Poor growth and delayed maturation in children with sickle cell disease (SCD) may be due, in part, to mild zinc deficiency.


The objective was to determine the effects of zinc supplementation on growth and body composition in children with SCD.


Forty-two prepubertal children (20 girls and 22 boys) aged 4-10 y with SCD-SS were randomly assigned to receive 10 mg elemental Zn/d in cherry syrup (zinc group) or cherry syrup alone (control group). The 2 groups were stratified by sex and initial height status. Dietary intakes were evaluated and anthropometric, high-precision knee-height, and plasma zinc measurements were made at baseline and at 3, 6, and 12 mo. Body composition was determined every 6 mo with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and z scores for anthropometric variables were computed from national reference data. Longitudinal-mixed-effects analysis was used to test for differences between the groups over the 12-mo observation period.


Thirty-eight children completed the study. No significant differences were observed at baseline. After 12 mo, the zinc group had significantly greater mean (+/- SE) increases in height (0.66 +/- 0.29 cm/y), sitting height (0.97 +/- 0.40 cm/y), knee height (3.8 +/- 1.2 mm/y), and arm circumference z scores (0.27 +/- 0.12 cm/y). Height-for-age and weight-for-age z scores decreased significantly by 0.11 +/- 0.04 and 0.13 +/- 0.05, respectively, in the control group but did not change significantly in the zinc group.


Prepubertal children with SCD-SS may have zinc deficiency and may benefit from zinc supplementation to improve linear growth and weight gain.

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