Effects Of Zinc Deficiency During Pregnancy – Nutritionist

Effects Of Zinc Deficiency During Pregnancy – Nutritionist

Effects of Zinc deficiency during pregnancy. A Professor of Community Nutrition at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Prof. Wasiu Afolabi, says zinc deficiency during pregnancy could lead to abnormal growth of babies in the womb as well as delayed maturation of different organs of the body, particularly sexual organs.

Prof. Afolabi who is the current President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, says zinc is one of the very important micronutrients that are required for growth particularly of the foetus, warning that zinc deficiency in pregnancy has a devastating impact on the growing baby as well as the mother and can lead to poor pregnancy outcomes.

According to him, pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable groups to zinc deficiency.

Speaking in an interview with media, the nutritionist notes that when zinc is deficient, it results in the retardation of the growth of the baby in the uterus.

Prof. Afolabi explained, “Zinc deficiency affects all age groups but women and children are more vulnerable because of the reproductive responsibility of women and then the nature of children who are growing.

Effects Of Zinc Deficiency During Pregnancy

“The obvious impact of zinc deficiency can be seen in them more than any other person. Zinc deficiency in pregnancy can lead to delayed onset of s*xual maturation in children. Now, if there is a delay in the onset of s*xual maturation, in adult life, it can lead to impotency.

“ Zinc is involved in protein synthesis and metabolism. When zinc is deficient, growth will become abnormal in that child.

“Pregnant women must know that when children are growing, different tissues and organs of the body are also involved.

So, if they don’t have an adequate intake of some of these very essential nutrients like zinc, it leads to delayed maturation of different organs of the body and particularly s*xual organs of the body.

“So, if that child grows up to become an adult, it could lead to a situation where there could be impotency particularly if the organ has been sub-optimally developed. “

According to an online news portal, Medicalnewstoday, zinc is vital to the development and function of the male sex organs. Males with zinc deficiency have been shown to have less developed testes and reduced sperm count.

Effects Of Zinc Deficiency During Pregnancy

“Zinc helps produce key sex hormones, such as testosterone and prolactin. Zinc also enables the creation of the main component of prostatic fluid”, says the online news portal.

NSN president notes that when a person has an unexplained weight loss, it may be as a result of zinc deficiency also.

Listing other negative outcomes of zinc deficiency in pregnancy, the nutritionist, said,“ When it is severe, it can lead to hair loss and diarrhoea.

It has been estimated that 80 percent of women in most developing countries have mild to moderate deficiency of zinc. It also decreases the sense of smell and taste.

“It can also result in open sores on the skin. If you have noticed during this COVID-19, we found out that at a point in time, people started taking zinc tablets because it is required in the immune functionality as well as increasing the sense of taste and smell. So, zinc is very important for a pregnant woman.”

Effects Of Zinc Deficiency During Pregnancy

Effects Of Zinc Deficiency During Pregnancy
Effects Of Zinc Deficiency During Pregnancy

Continuing, he noted, “It does not only affect the foetus, but It also causes poor pregnancy outcomes leading to low birth weight among pregnant women as well as preterm birth. This is because it can lead to the onset of labour prematurely.”

Prof. Afolabi pointed out that zinc deficiency is linked to high infant mortality because “if we have a high level of preterm babies, the risk of such babies dying before their first birthday is very high.”

He advised pregnant women to consume foods rich in zinc, especially from animal food sources such as beef, chicken, egg and fish.

The nutritionist also enjoined them not to consume cereals and grains without a complementary animal food source while also calling for sustained nutrition education to increase knowledge as well as practices concerning the consumption of zinc-rich foods.

Effects Of Zinc Deficiency During Pregnancy

Authors of a 2019 article published in BioMed Central journal, say at least 17 percent of the world’s population is at risk of inadequate zinc intake with the highest risk occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

According to the authors, in 2011, zinc deficiency was accounted for about 116,000 child deaths and 20 percent of prenatal mortality in the world

“In Africa, zinc deficiency accounted for 14.4 percent of diarrhoeal deaths, 10.4 percent of malaria deaths and 6.7 percent of pneumonia deaths among children between six months and five years of age Zinc deficiency ranged from 9.5 percent in developed countries to 33.5 percent in developing countries.

“Many observational studies have also shown that zinc deficiency is associated with congenital anomalies, impairment of learning and memory function.

Effects Of Zinc Deficiency During Pregnancy

“The linkage of zinc deficiency to a wide range of pregnancy-related complications such as prolonged labour, premature rupture of membrane, placental abruption, and infections have been reported in many studies,” the authors said.

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