Zinc supplementation affects the activity patterns of rural Guatemalan infants

Margaret E. Bentley, Laura E. Caulfield, Malathi Ram, Maria Claudia Santizo, Elena Hurtado, Juan A. Rivera, Marie T. Ruel, Kenneth H. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zinc deficiency has been associated with growth deficits, reduced dietary intake and appetite, and has been hypothesized to result in reduced activity. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined whether 10 mg of oral zinc as zinc sulfate, given daily for up to 7 mo, affected activity patterns of 85 Guatemalan infants recruited at 6-9 mo of age. Infant activity was assessed by time sampling-observation method at 10- min intervals during a 12-h data collection period, at base line, 3 and 7 me follow-up. Motor development and the percentage of time infants were observed in various positions (being carried, lying down, sitting, crawling, standing or walking) and engaged in various activities (eating, sleeping, resting, crying/whining or playing) were compared by treatment group. No differences in motor development were observed by treatment group. However, at follow-up 2 (after 7 me of supplementation), zinc-supplemented infants were significantly more frequently observed sitting up compared with lying down, and were playing during 4.18 ± 1.95% (P < 0.05) more observations than unsupplemented infants. They were also somewhat less likely to be observed crying or whining (P < 0.10) compared with those receiving the placebo. These effects are independent of other factors including infant age, motor development, sex, maternal education, family socioeconomic status and nutritional status at base line. Further research must be conducted to determine the long-term developmental importance of these differences in activity patterns associated with zinc supplementation in this setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1333-1338
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1997


  • Activity
  • Growth
  • Humans
  • Infant development
  • Motor activity
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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