Increased early enteral zinc intake improves weight gain in hospitalised preterm infants

Acta Paediatr. 2019 Nov;108(11):1978-1984. doi: 10.1111/apa.14828. Epub 2019 May 27.


Aim: To test the hypothesis that enteral zinc intake is associated with improved preterm infant growth during neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) hospitalisation.

Methods: This prospective cohort study enrolled 105 preterm infants at a tertiary referral centre. Enteral zinc intake was calculated at day of life 14, and growth was measured as change in weight, length and head circumference from birth to discharge. Nonparametric tests assessed the contribution of breast milk vs formula and enteral zinc intake on weight, length and head circumference growth. Partial correlations evaluated the impact of baseline health status and caloric intake on growth. Multiple regression analysis was then completed to determine the unique contribution of zinc intake to weight gain and head circumference growth.

Results: Total enteral zinc intake was positively associated with weight gain (r = 0.4, p < 0.01) and head circumference growth (r = 0.3, p < 0.01) during NICU hospitalisation. Further, multiple regression analysis showed higher zinc intake is linked to weight gain during NICU hospitalisation after accounting for postmenstrual age at birth.

Conclusion: Increased early enteral zinc intake is linked to weight gain during NICU hospitalisation, highlighting the importance of enteral zinc intake in early infant nutrition.

Keywords: Infant growth; Infant nutrition; Neonatology; Prematurity; Zinc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / growth & development*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*
  • Zinc / pharmacology


  • Zinc