Plasma zinc status, growth and maturation in children with sickle cell disease

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The objective of this study was to determine the relation of plasma zinc (Zn) status to growth and maturation in children with SS genotype sickle cell disease.

Study design

A cross-sectional study of 104 subjects who were 50% female and ranged in age from 0.4 to 18 years was performed. Measures included plasma Zn concentration (Znp), height, weight, skinfold thicknesses, elbow breadth, upper arm muscle area, and fat-free mass and fat mass by total body electrical conductivity. Skeletal maturation was assessed by hand-wrist x-ray evaluation and sexual maturation by Tanner stage.


A total of 44% of the patients had low Znp (<10.7 micro mol/L [70 micro g/dl]); those with low Znp had significantly lower SD scores for height (p = 0.003), weight (p = 0.003), upper arm muscle area (p = 0.045), fat-free mass (p = 0.025), and elbow breadth (p = 0.017) and greater skeletal maturation delay (p = 0.04). In older children (>9 years) low Znp was associated with decreased Tanner scores for pubic hair (p = 0.001) and breast and genital maturation (p = 0.009). No significant differences were seen in age, sex, or fat stores according to Zn status.


Decreased plasma Zn is common in children with SS genotype sickle cell disease and is associated with decreased linear growth, skeletal growth, muscle mass, and sexual and skeletal maturation. (J Pediatr 1998;132;467-71)

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