Transient Symptomatic Zinc Deficiency in a Breast-fed Preterm Infant

Authors

  • Ursula Kiechl-Kohlendorfer M.Sc. M.D.,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Neuropediatrics and Metabolic Diseases, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria
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  • Franz-Martin Fink M.D.,

    1. Department of Pediatrics, St. Johann County Hospital, St. Johann, Austria
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  • Elisabeth Steichen-Gersdorf M.D.

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Neuropediatrics and Metabolic Diseases, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria
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Address correspondence to Dr. Ursula Kiechl-Kohlendorfer, Department of Pediatrics, Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria, or e-mail: ursula.kohlendorfer@i-med.ac.at.

Abstract

Abstract:  Transient, symptomatic zinc deficiency in breast-fed, low-birthweight infants is a rare, but probably underrecognized disorder hallmarked by periorificial and acral dermatitis. Unlike in acrodermatitis enteropathica, symptoms disappear when nursing ends. We report a breast-fed, preterm infant with demarcated, erythematous, and exudative patches with overlying crusts on the perioral, perianal, and acral areas. Laboratory investigations revealed lowered zinc levels in the infant’s serum, but normal levels in his mother’s milk. Oral zinc supplementation resulted in total clearing of skin lesions within 4 weeks. Our patient’s presentation illustrates the importance of zinc in rapidly growing preterm infants and aims to stimulate awareness for this disorder. Symptomatic zinc deficiency can be easily diagnosed by careful examination and effectively treated with oral zinc substitution.

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