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Maternal zinc deficiency during pregnancy elevates the risks of fetal growth restriction: a population-based birth cohort study

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      We investigated the association between maternal zinc level during pregnancy and the risks of low birth weight (LBW) and small for gestational age (SGA) infants in a large population-based birth cohort study. In this study, 3187 pregnant women were recruited. For serum zinc level, 2940 pregnant women were sufficient (≥56 μg/dL) and 247 deficient (<56 μg/dL). Of interest, 7.3% newborns were with LBW among subjects with low zinc level (RR: 3.48; 95% CI: 2.03, 5.96; P < 0.001). Adjusted RR for LBW was 3.41 (95% CI: 1.97, 5.91; P < 0.001) among subjects with low zinc level. Moreover, 15.0% newborns were with SGA among subjects with low zinc level (RR: 1.98; 95% CI: 1.36, 2.88; P < 0.001). Adjusted RR for SGA was 1.93 (95% CI: 1.32, 2.82; P < 0.001) among subjects with low zinc level. A nested case-control study within above cohort showed that maternal serum zinc level was lower in SGA cases as compared with controls. By contrast, maternal serum C-reactive protein, TNF-α and IL-8 levels were significantly higher in SGA cases than that of controls. Moreover, nuclear NF-κB p65 was significantly up-regulated in placentas of SGA cases as compared with controls. Taken together, maternal zinc deficiency during pregnancy elevates the risks of LBW and SGA infants.

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      Growth in utero, blood pressure in childhood and adult life, and mortality from cardiovascular disease.

      In national samples of 9921 10 year olds and 3259 adults in Britain systolic blood pressure was inversely related to birth weight. The association was independent of gestational age and may therefore be attributed to reduced fetal growth. This suggests that the intrauterine environment influences blood pressure during adult life. It is further evidence that the geographical differences in average blood pressure and mortality from cardiovascular disease in Britain partly reflect past differences in the intrauterine environment. Within England and Wales 10 year olds living in areas with high cardiovascular mortality were shorter and had higher resting pulse rates than those living in other areas. Their mothers were also shorter and had higher diastolic blood pressures. This suggests that there are persisting geographical differences in the childhood environment that predispose to differences in cardiovascular mortality.
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        Babies who are small at birth or during infancy have increased rates of cardiovascular disease and non-insulin-dependent diabetes as adults. Some of these babies have low birthweights, some are small in relation to the size of their placentas, some are thin at birth, and some are short at birth and fail to gain weight in infancy. This paper shows how fetal undernutrition at different stages of gestation can be linked to these patterns of early growth. The fetuses' adaptations to undernutrition are associated with changes in the concentrations of fetal and placental hormones. Persisting changes in the levels of hormone secretion, and in the sensitivity of tissues to them, may link fetal undernutrition with abnormal structure, function, and disease in adult life.
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          Small for gestational age: short stature and beyond.

          Depending on the definitions used, up to 10% of all live-born neonates are small for gestational age (SGA). Although the vast majority of these children show catch-up growth by 2 yr of age, one in 10 does not. It is increasingly recognized that those who are born SGA are at risk of developing metabolic disease later in life. Reduced fetal growth has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. The majority of pathology is seen in adults who show spontaneous catch-up growth as children. There is evidence to suggest that some of the metabolic consequences of intrauterine growth retardation in children born SGA can be mitigated by ensuring early appropriate catch-up growth, while avoiding excessive weight gain. Implicitly, this argument questions current infant formula feeding practices. The risk is less clear for individuals who do not show catch-up growth and who are treated with GH for short stature. Recent data, however, suggest that long-term treatment with GH does not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome in young adults born SGA.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]School of Public Health, Anhui Medical University , Hefei, China
            [2 ]Anhui Provincial Key Laboratory of Population Health & Aristogenics, Anhui Medical University , Hefei, China
            Author notes

            These authors contributed equally to this work.

            Sci Rep
            Sci Rep
            Scientific Reports
            Nature Publishing Group
            08 June 2015
            : 5
            Copyright © 2015, Macmillan Publishers Limited

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