Maternal zinc supplementation during pregnancy affects autonomic function of peruvian children assessed at 54 months of age

Laura E. Caulfield, Nelly Zavaleta, Ping Chen, Fabiola Lazarte, Carla Albornoz, Diane L. Putnick, Marc H. Bornstein, Janet A. DiPietro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Maternal prenatal zinc supplementation improved fetal autonomic regulation in a nutrient-deficient population in Peru. To evaluate whether differences in autonomic regulation existed in early childhood, we studied 165 children from a zinc supplementation trial (80% of original sample) as part of a comprehensive evaluation at age 54mo. Electrocardiogram (ECG) data were collected from the children at rest and while they underwent a cognitive testing battery following a standardized protocol. Of these, 79 were born tomothers receiving 25 mg/d zinc in addition to 60 mg/d iron and 250 μg/d folic acid during pregnancy, and 86 were born to mothers receiving iron and folic acid only. Derived cardiac measures included heart period (HP), range, HP variability (HPV),mean square of successive differences (MSSD), and a measure of vagal tone (V). Children in the zinc supplementation group had greater HP (i.e. slower heart rate), greater range, higher time-independent (HPV) and time-dependent (MSSD) variability in HP, and higher V (P < 0.05) during baseline. Analyses conducted across the cognitive testing period revealed similar effects of prenatal zinc supplementation on cardiac patterns. Concurrent child zinc plasma concentration was also associated with longer HP, greater variability, and marginally higher range and V (P < 0.10). Differences in cardiac patterns due to prenatal zinc supplementation were detectable in children at 54 mo of age during conditions of both rest and challenge, indicating that supplementing zinc-deficient pregnant women has beneficial long-term consequences for neural development associated with autonomic regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-332
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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