Zinc deficiency limits infant growth and increases susceptibility to infections, which further compromises growth. Zinc supplementation improves the growth of zinc-deficient stunted infants, but the amount, frequency, and duration of zinc supplementation required to restore growth in an individual child is unknown. A dynamic model of zinc metabolism that predicts changes in weight and length of zinc-deficient, stunted infants with dietary zinc would be useful to define effective zinc supplementation regimens.

A model of zinc metabolism was developed using data on zinc kinetics, tissue zinc, and growth requirements for healthy 9 month old infants. The model suggests that frequent, smaller doses (5–10 mg Zn/d) are more effective for increasing growth in stunted, zinc-deficient 9-mo-old infants than are larger, less-frequent doses.

In the future, the model predictions of zinc supplementation need to be evaluated in homogenous groups of stunted infants with respect to age, sex, and zinc status. That information will improve predicted amounts of supplemental zinc, and it will identify the population subgroups (e.g., infants with plasma zinc and length-for-age z score below defined thresholds) most likely to respond to zinc supplementation.

The publication can be found here.