Sickle cell disease, sometimes called sickle cell anemia, is a hereditary condition that causes red blood cells to become sickle-shaped, which makes it difficult for the cells to pass through the bloodstream to deliver oxygen to the body's tissues. Young sickle cell patients who are having delays in their growth and maturation may benefit from supplemental zinc, a mineral essential for growth and development.
"These findings suggest that children with sickle cell disease have increased zinc requirements that may not be met by their usual dietary intake," lead study author Dr. Babette S. Zemel, of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.
During the study, children given zinc had significantly greater increases in height, sitting height, knee height and arm circumference than their peers in the comparison group. For example, children in the zinc group grew an average 0.66 cm more in height than did their peers during the study period. Furthermore, among a subgroup of children who were initially identified as short for their age, those in the zinc group grew 1.3 cm more in height than their peers in the comparison group.