British Journal of Nutrition

Research Article

Relationship between pre-pregnancy BMI and plasma zinc concentrations in early pregnancy

Tsunenobu Tamuraa1 c1, Robert L. Goldenberga2, Kelley E. Johnstona1 and Victoria R. Chapmana2

a1 Department of Nutrition Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham AL, USA

a2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham AL, USA


We previously reported that pregnant women whose plasma Zn concentrations were below the 50th percentile tended to have high pre-pregnancy BMI (kg/m2) values. We therefore hypothesized that in pregnant women, plasma Zn concentrations are negatively correlated with BMI. We evaluated the association between BMI values and plasma Zn concentrations in 1474 women whose blood samples were obtained before 15 weeks of gestation. Their mean age was 22·7 years and mean gestational age at blood sampling was 10 weeks. The mean plasma Zn concentration and BMI were 11·6 μmol/l and 26·6 kg/m2 respectively. Because plasma Zn concentrations decrease as gestational age increases, plasma Zn concentrations were standardized by Z-scores. Z-score distributions were compared among the quartiles of BMI. The highest BMI group had the lowest plasma Zn concentrations, whereas the lowest BMI group had the highest; the differences were significant between the BMI groups (P<0·0001). The interpretation of plasma Zn concentrations to assess Zn nutriture in pregnancy may be complicated not only by the well-established factor of gestational age at blood sampling, but also by a previously unrecognized factor, maternal BMI.

(Received October 10 2003)

(Revised January 13 2004)

(Accepted January 30 2004)


c1 *Corresponding author: Professor T. Tamura, fax +1205 934 7049, email