Zinc Supplementation Increases the Level of Serum Insulin-Like Growth factor-I but Does Not Promote Growth in Infants With Nonorganic Failure to Thrive

Horm Res. 1999;52(4):200-4. doi: 10.1159/000023461.


We investigated in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study the effects of zinc supplementation (2 mg/kg/day) for 12 weeks on growth, serum insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) and insulin-like factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) on 3- to 9-month-old infants with nonorganic failure to thrive (NOFTT). 25 infants completed the study, 14 received zinc supplementation (group A), and 11 received placebo (group B). The control group for baseline measurements was composed of 10 age-matched normal growing infants. There were no significant changes in weight for age, length for age, or weight for length during the entire study period in either group A or B. Serum IGF-I levels at baseline were similar in all the groups. After 12 weeks of therapy, serum IFG-I levels increased significantly only in the zinc-supplemented group, from 40.3 +/- 7 ng/ml at baseline to 65 +/- 8 ng/ml (p < 0.05). There was a marked difference in serum IGF-I levels between the zinc-supplemented group and the placebo group after 12 weeks: 65 +/- 8 vs. 49.4 +/- 5 ng/ml (p = 0.058, 95% CI of difference 9.88-21.31). No change was demonstrated in serum IGFBP-3 levels in either study group. We conclude that although zinc supplementation increased serum IGF-I levels, it did not improve the growth parameters of infants with NOFTT.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Failure to Thrive / drug therapy*
  • Failure to Thrive / physiopathology*
  • Growth*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Placebos
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*
  • Zinc / therapeutic use


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Placebos
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Zinc