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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2009 December;144(6):729-34

Copyright © 2009 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

A case of transient zinc deficiency in a breast-fed preterm infant successfully treated with oral zinc supplementation: review of zinc methabolism and related diseases

Mandato F., Rubegni P., Buonocore G., Fimiani M.

Clinical Medicine and Immunological Science Departemnt Dermatology Section, Le Scotte University Hospital, Siena, Italy


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A 15-week-old baby girl, born at the 29 week of gestation, presented with a four-week history of demarcated, erythematous, erosive and exudative patches on the perianal, perioral and acral areas. A clinical diagnosis of zinc deficiency was considered. Serum zinc level was decreased (0.5 mg/L; normal 0.70-1.50 mg/L), the mother’s serum and milk had normal zinc values. The baby was started an empiric trial of oral zinc supplementation (3 mg zinc gluconate/kg body weight/ day) with complete healing of lesions after two weeks. Treatment was gradually withdrawn at six months of age with no relapse. Transient zinc deficiency due to increased zinc requirements in breast-fed mainly preterm infants is a condition similar to acrodermatitis enteropathica, an autosomal recessive disorder of enteric zinc absorption affecting almost exclusively not breast-fed infants. Early recognition of the disorder and introduction of zinc supplementation rapidly reverses transient zinc deficiency, that probably will become more and more frequent, because of the rising rate of premature infants with breast-feeding only.

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