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      Zinc in Early Life: A Key Element in the Fetus and Preterm Neonate


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          Zinc is a key element for growth and development. In this narrative review, we focus on the role of dietary zinc in early life (including embryo, fetus and preterm neonate), analyzing consequences of zinc deficiency and adequacy of current recommendations on dietary zinc. We performed a systematic search of articles on the role of zinc in early life. We selected and analyzed 81 studies. Results of this analysis showed that preservation of zinc balance is of critical importance for the avoidance of possible consequences of low zinc levels on pre- and post-natal life. Insufficient quantities of zinc during embryogenesis may influence the final phenotype of all organs. Maternal zinc restriction during pregnancy influences fetal growth, while adequate zinc supplementation during pregnancy may result in a reduction of the risk of preterm birth. Preterm neonates are at particular risk to develop zinc deficiency due to a combination of different factors: (i) low body stores due to reduced time for placental transfer of zinc; (ii) increased endogenous losses; and (iii) marginal intake. Early diagnosis of zinc deficiency, through the measurement of serum zinc concentrations, may be essential to avoid severe prenatal and postnatal consequences in these patients. Typical clinical manifestations of zinc deficiency are growth impairment and dermatitis. Increasing data suggest that moderate zinc deficiency may have significant subclinical effects, increasing the risk of several complications typical of preterm neonates ( i.e., necrotizing enterocolitis, chronic lung disease, and retinopathy), and that current recommended intakes should be revised to meet zinc requirements of extremely preterm neonates. Future studies evaluating the adequacy of current recommendations are advocated.

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          The steroid and thyroid hormone receptor superfamily.

          Analyses of steroid receptors are important for understanding molecular details of transcriptional control, as well as providing insight as to how an individual transacting factor contributes to cell identity and function. These studies have led to the identification of a superfamily of regulatory proteins that include receptors for thyroid hormone and the vertebrate morphogen retinoic acid. Although animals employ complex and often distinct ways to control their physiology and development, the discovery of receptor-related molecules in a wide range of species suggests that mechanisms underlying morphogenesis and homeostasis may be more ubiquitous than previously expected.
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            Enteral nutrient supply for preterm infants: commentary from the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Committee on Nutrition.

            The number of surviving children born prematurely has increased substantially during the last 2 decades. The major goal of enteral nutrient supply to these infants is to achieve growth similar to foetal growth coupled with satisfactory functional development. The accumulation of knowledge since the previous guideline on nutrition of preterm infants from the Committee on Nutrition of the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in 1987 has made a new guideline necessary. Thus, an ad hoc expert panel was convened by the Committee on Nutrition of the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition in 2007 to make appropriate recommendations. The present guideline, of which the major recommendations are summarised here (for the full report, see http://links.lww.com/A1480), is consistent with, but not identical to, recent guidelines from the Life Sciences Research Office of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences published in 2002 and recommendations from the handbook Nutrition of the Preterm Infant. Scientific Basis and Practical Guidelines, 2nd ed, edited by Tsang et al, and published in 2005. The preferred food for premature infants is fortified human milk from the infant's own mother, or, alternatively, formula designed for premature infants. This guideline aims to provide proposed advisable ranges for nutrient intakes for stable-growing preterm infants up to a weight of approximately 1800 g, because most data are available for these infants. These recommendations are based on a considered review of available scientific reports on the subject, and on expert consensus for which the available scientific data are considered inadequate.
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              The neurobiology of zinc in health and disease.

              The use of zinc in medicinal skin cream was mentioned in Egyptian papyri from 2000 BC (for example, the Smith Papyrus), and zinc has apparently been used fairly steadily throughout Roman and modern times (for example, as the American lotion named for its zinc ore, 'Calamine'). It is, therefore, somewhat ironic that zinc is a relatively late addition to the pantheon of signal ions in biology and medicine. However, the number of biological functions, health implications and pharmacological targets that are emerging for zinc indicate that it might turn out to be 'the calcium of the twenty-first century'.

                Author and article information

                11 December 2015
                December 2015
                : 7
                : 12
                : 10427-10446
                [1 ]Department of Gynecology-Obstetrics, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome 00186, Italy; mariadc91@ 123456hotmail.it (M.D.C.); apietravalle@ 123456gmail.com (A.P.); vincenzo.aleandri@ 123456uniroma1.it (V.A.)
                [2 ]Department of Translational Medicine, University of Naples Federico II, Napoli 80138, Italy; berni@ 123456unina.it
                [3 ]Research Center on Evaluation of Quality in Medicine—CEQUAM, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome 00186, Italy
                [4 ]Department of Pediatrics, University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome 00186, Italy; frconte2000@ 123456yahoo.it (F.C.); mario.decurtis@ 123456uniroma1.it (M.D.C.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: gianluca.terrin@ 123456uniroma1.it ; Tel.: +0039-064-997-2536
                © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 08 August 2015
                : 26 November 2015

                Nutrition & Dietetics
                micronutrients,neonate,newborn,fetus,low birth weight,growth,dermatitis,necrotizing enterocolitis


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