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Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Sep;56(3):491-8.

Effect of a zinc-fortified formula on immunocompetence and growth of malnourished infants.

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  • 1Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, University of Chile, Santiago.


This study attempted to define the possible contribution of zinc nutrition to immunocompetence and growth in severely malnourished infants. The effect of zinc supplementation was evaluated in marasmic infants during nutritional rehabilitation by using a controlled double-blind design in which 19 infants fed a zinc-fortified formula were compared with 20 infants fed the same non-supplemented formula. Evaluation of immunocompetence, growth, and zinc, copper, and iron status was performed on admission and at 30, 60, and 105 d of nutritional rehabilitation. Although energy intake was similar in both groups, the zinc-supplemented infants had significantly higher linear growth gain, and their immune function improved as demonstrated by conversion of their delayed hypersensitivity skin reactions, enhanced lymphoproliferative response to PHA, and increased salivary IgA concentrations. Thus, the use of a zinc-fortified formula during nutritional rehabilitation can prevent the development of zinc deficiency and improve growth and immune function.

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