Transient symptomatic zinc deficiency in a breast-fed preterm infant.

Research paper by Ursula U Kiechl-Kohlendorfer, Franz-Martin FM Fink, Elisabeth E Steichen-Gersdorf

Indexed on: 26 Oct '07Published on: 26 Oct '07Published in: Pediatric Dermatology


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.