The essentiality of zinc is highlighted in pregnancy where many fundamental processes are dependent on Zn. In addition to adequate intake during pregnancy and lactation, it is recognised that a range of pathological outcomes are associated with zinc deficiency including; birth defects, growth retardation, impaired immune function and increased susceptibility to infection, skin disorders and central nervous system dysfunction. Furthermore, our understanding of pregnancy outcomes has been advanced by the better understanding of mechanisms that underlie the altered supply of Zn to the fetus in response to the maternal exposure to toxins, infection and disease. The metal binding protein, metallothionein is important in altering Zn distribution following exposure to alcohol or infection.
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