Zinc supplementation initiated Prior to or during Pregnancy modestly impacted maternal status and high prevalence of hypozincemia in pregnancy and lactation: The women first preconception maternal nutrition trial

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Background: Data regarding effects of small-quantity-lipid-based nutrient supplements (SQ-LNS) on maternal serum zinc concentrations (SZC) in pregnancy and lactation are limited.
Objectives: The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effect of preconception compared with prenatal zinc supplementation (compared with control) on maternal SZC and hypozincemia during pregnancy and early lactation in women in low-resource settings, and assess associations with birth anthropometry.
Methods: From ∼100 women/arm at each of 3 sites (Guatemala, India, and Pakistan) of the Women First Preconception Maternal Nutrition trial, we compared SZC at 12- and 34-wk gestation (n = 651 and 838, respectively) and 3-mo postpartum (n = 742) in women randomly assigned to daily SQ-LNS containing 15 mg zinc from ≥3 mo before conception (preconception, arm 1), from ∼12 wk gestation through delivery (early pregnancy, arm 2) or not at all (control, arm 3). Birth anthropometry was examined for newborns with ultrasound-determined gestational age. Statistical analyses were performed separately for each time point.
Results: At 12-wk gestation and 3-mo postpartum, no statistical differences in mean SZC were observed among arms. At 34-wk, mean SZC for arms 1 and 2 were significantly higher than for arm 3 (50.3, 50.8, 47.8 μg/dL, respectively; P = 0.005). Results were not impacted by correction for inflammation or albumin concentrations. Prevalence of hypozincemia at 12-wk (μg/dL) was 23% in Guatemala, 26% in India, and 65% in Pakistan; at 34 wk (μg/dL), 36% in Guatemala, 48% in India, and 74% in Pakistan; and at 3-mo postpartum (μg/dL) 79% in Guatemala, 91% in India, and 92% in Pakistan. Maternal hypozincemia at 34-wk was associated with lower birth length-for-age Z-scores (all sites P = 0.013, Pakistan P = 0.008) and weight-for-age Z-scores (all sites P = 0.017, Pakistan P = 0.022).
Conclusions: Despite daily zinc supplementation for ≥7 mo, high rates of maternal hypozincemia were observed. The association of hypozincemia with impaired fetal growth suggests widespread zinc deficiency in these settings. This trial is registered at clinicaltrials


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Publication (Name of Journal)

The Journal of Nutrition