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International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 55 (1996) 175-176

Brief communication

Zinc levels in pregnancy


S.S. George*a, S. Swaminathanb, L. Seshadri
aDepartment
of Obstetrics
Department
of Clinical

and Gynecology,
Christian Medical College Hospital,
Vellore, India
Biochemistry,
Christian Medical College Hospital,
Vellore, India

Received 18 March 1996; revised 3 July 1996; accepted 8 July 1996

Keywords: Plasma zinc; Erythrocyte

zinc; Leukocyte

zinc

Zinc levels in plasma, leukocyte and erythrocyte


in normal pregnancies have been studied by
various authors [ 1,2]. The results have been conflicting, plasma and leukocyte zinc levels showing
a decrease and erythrocyte levels showing an
increase. The only Indian study on pregnant
women has revealed low serum zinc levels in I and
II trimesters [3]. We therefore undertook a prospective study to assesszinc levels in pregnancy in
South Indian women.
Fourteen healthy antenatal patients who did not
have systemic infections, cardiac or renal disease
and who were on oral iron supplements were
studied. Zinc levels in plasma, erythrocyte and leukocyte were measured in I, II and III trimesters in
all of them. Twenty-five non-pregnant patients of
the reproductive age group were selected as controls and zinc measurements were carried out. Zinc
determinations in plasma, erythrocytes and leukocytes were done using a Perkin Elmer atomic abl

Corresponding author. Tel.: 91 416 22102; fax: 91 416


32103, 91 416 32035.

sorption spectrophotometer
and expressed as
&lo0 ml, kg/g Hb and ng/mg dry weight, respectively. The statistical analysis was performed using
Students r-test and Pearson correlation coefficient.
Analysis of the results revealed that the plasma
zinc levels were significantly lower in pregnant
women during the 3 trimesters compared to the
non-pregnant controls (Table 1). The levels in II
and III trimesters were significantly lower than in
I trimester. Most studies by other authors have
revealed the same observation. This decrease in
plasma zinc levels in pregnancy is the effect of
hemodilution and low albumin levels.
However the erythrocyte and leukocyte zinc levels were similar in pregnant women in all 3
trimesters and non-pregnant women, indicating
that there is no zinc deficiency in normal
pregnancy.
There was no significant correlation between
plasma zinc levels and erythrocyte or leukocyte
zinc in the pregnant and non-pregnant women.
But there was a significant positive correlation be-

0020-7292/96/%15.00 0 1996 International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics


PII

SOO20-7292(96)0275

I-8

176

S.S. George

Table I
Zinc levels in pregnant

CI al. / Inrerna~ionnl

and non-pregnant

Zn indices
Mean f SE.

Journal

of Gynecology

& Obsrerrics

55 (19%)

175- I76

women

Non-pregnant
n = 25

Pregnant

n = 14

Trimester

Trimester

II

Trimester

III

Plasma pgilO0 ml
RBC rg/g Hb
WBC ngmg (dry weight)

91.3 f 1.7
46.8 f 0.4
60.4 f 0.5

SO.36 f 4.2
45.28 f 1.8
60.86 f 2.6

67.71 f 2.3
44.51 f 2
56.71 f 2.7

69.19 f 2.9
48.21 f 2.4
57.93 f 2.9

Correlation
coefficient
Plasma, RBC
Plasma, WBC
RBC, WBC

0.25
0.28
0.58"'

0.2
0.28
0.59'

0.36
0.45
0.57*

0.08
0.18
0.17

***f

< 0.001; 'P

< 0.056.

tween erythrocyte and leukocyte zinc in the nonpregnant state and during pregnancy except in the
third trimester. This indicates that plasma zinc is
not a reliable index of zinc status in pregnancy.
Erythrocyte and leukocyte measurements give a
fair assessment of the zinc status and preferably
both of these indices should be measured.
Erythrocyte zinc measurement is technically
simpler, less time consuming and less expensive
and has the least variation among the three indices. Therefore, erythrocyte zinc appears to be a
reliable and cost effective index of maternal zinc
status.

References

111
PI

131

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Scopes JW. Zinc and small babies. Lancet 1981; 8256 (2):
1135-1137.
Jepson LV, Clemmensen
K. Zinc in Danish women during late normal pregnancy
and pregnancies
with intrauterine
growth
retardation.
Acta Obstet Gynecol
Stand 1987; 66: 401-405.
Sharma R, Shinghal KC, Tewari K, Gupta M. Serum
zinc levels in non-pregnant
and pregnant women. Indian
J Pharmacol
1991; 23: 242-246.