Zinc supplementation for improving pregnancy and infant outcome

Kassam Mahomed, Z. Bhutta, P. Middleton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It has been suggested that low serum zinc levels may be associated with suboptimal outcomes of pregnancy such as prolonged labour, atonic postpartum haemorrhage, pregnancy-induced hypertension, preterm labour and post-term pregnancies, although many of these associations have not yet been established. Objectives: To assess the effects of zinc supplementation in pregnancy on maternal, fetal, neonatal and infant outcomes. Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (February 2007). Selection criteria: Randomised or quasi-randomised trials of zinc supplementation in pregnancy. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors applied the study selection criteria, assessed trial quality and extracted data. When necessary, study authors were contacted for additional information. Main results: We included 17 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving over 9000 women and their babies. Zinc supplementation resulted in a small but significant reduction in preterm birth (relative risk (RR) 0.86, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.76 to 0.98 in 13 RCTs; 6854 women). This was not accompanied by a similar reduction in numbers of babies with low birthweight (RR 1.05 95% CI 0.94 to 1.17; 11 studies of 4941 women). No significant differences were seen between the zinc and no zinc groups for any of the other primary maternal or neonatal outcomes, except for a small effect favouring zinc for caesarean section (four trials with high heterogeneity) and for induction of labour in a single trial. No differing patterns were evident in the subgroups of women with low versus normal zinc and nutrition levels or in women who complied with their treatment versus those who did not. Authors' conclusions: The 14% relative reduction in preterm birth for zinc compared with placebo was primarily in the group of studies involving women of low income and this has some relevance in areas of high perinatalmortality.Therewas no convincing evidence that zinc supplementation during pregnancy results in other useful and important benefits. Since the preterm association could well reflect poor nutrition, studies to address ways of improving the overall nutritional status of populations in impoverished areas, rather than focusing on micronutrient and or zinc supplementation in isolation, should be an urgent priority.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD000230
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • *Dietary supplements
  • *Pregnancy outcome
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, low birth weight
  • Infant, newborn
  • Obstetric labor, premature [prevention & control]
  • Pregnancy
  • Randomized controlled trials as topic
  • Zinc [*administration & dosage]


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