In ways that would be unrecognizable to history, we are living in the most
exciting of times.
Dr. Zlotkin: We started talking about epidemiology, went on to understanding
physiology and impact, and ended I think very appropriately with looking at how we
can deal with this issue.
Micronutrients such as vitamin A and zinc play a major role in immunity
to infectious diseases during the weaning period and the first years of life.
In the last two decades, clinical trials have shown that vitamin A or zinc
supplementation reduces morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases
among infants and children in developing countries [1, 2
The first 2 years of life are a period of significant bone growth and mineralization.
Garn  was one of the first researchers who eloquently described
early bone growth based on over 25,000 radiographs of the metacarpals.
Despite numerous advances and improvements in child health globally,
malnutrition still remains a major problem [1, 2]. A large proportion of cases
of malnutrition occur in South Asia , which also harbors almost three quarters
of the global burden of low birth weight infants .
Micronutrient deficiencies have significant adverse consequences on key
aspects of body functioning, such as on immune systems and hence resistance
to infection, on hearing, cognition, endurance and peak work capacity.
Iron, iodine and vitamin A are the most common micronutrient deficiencies
and affect one third or more of the world’s population.
At the time of weaning, the infant’s food and nutrient intake changes
radically from that derived from breast-milk to that derived from complementary
We will consider specific examples of three areas in which mineral stable
isotopes are used, and then discuss the issues regarding increasing the use of
stable isotope-based research.
There is growing awareness that the micronutrient status of large segments
of populations is inadequate and causing adverse effects on infants and
In September 2000, the world’s leaders adopted the UN Millennium
Declaration committing their nations to stronger global efforts to reduce
poverty, improve health and promote peace, human rights and environmental
Trace mineral deficiencies in humans were first studied in relation to
iodine deficiency and thyroid function, and iron deficiency and anemia.
In recent years, the promotion of breast-feeding has received much
attention. This emphasis, however, has overshadowed efforts in many developing
countries to provide safe and nutritionally adequate complementary
foods for infants and young children, and this critical aspect of young child
feeding has been severely neglected.
variety of micronutrients affect infant behavior and development [for a
recent review see, 1]. Here we focus on deficiencies of iron or zinc, which are
among the most common single nutrients disorders in the world.
Six- to 24-month-old children are at especially high risk for micronutrient
deficiencies due to their rapid rate of growth and their ability to consume only
small amounts of food at any one time.
Micronutrient deficiency during early childhood may be related to a series
of factors including inadequate stores accumulated during the fetal period,
low intake from maternal breast milk, early abandonment of breast-feeding,
increased losses due to infections and inadequate micronutrient intake from
complementary foods (foods taken in addition to breast milk from 6 months
until the child eats from the family diet, 24 months).
Iron deficiency results from an imbalance between iron uptake, iron
utilization and iron loss .