zinc deficiency

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Zinc deficiency may be due to dietary lack, total parenteral nutrition without zinc supplementation, or as part of a generalised malabsorption. Rarely there is a genetic basis - acrodermatitis enteropathica.

Clinical features:

  • diarrhoea
  • alopecia
  • poor wound healing
  • defective taste
  • failure to thrive
  • the syndrome of acrodermatitis enteropathica

Diagnosis is made by giving a therapeutic trial of zinc tablets; plasma levels are an unreliable indicator of zinc deficiency because the plasma level may be lowered, for example, in acute infection and after trauma.

Last reviewed 01/2018