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Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, advances in stable isotope methodology have made it possible to conduct studies in diverse pediatric populations and settings. These methods can be taken to the field now. The application of stable isotopes to zinc homeostasis in infants and children suggest that

  • absorption is characterized by a saturation–response model,

  • the most important factors influencing zinc absorption are the quantity of zinc ingested and likely phytate (but not host status),

  • homeostatic responses are insufficient to prevent dietary deficiency, and

  • comparison of population intake to the current EAR for zinc seems to predict a response to interventions.

Furthermore, it is important to link homeostatic responses to interventions with functional outcomes.


Throughout the workshop, many discussions included mention of the serious data gaps related to setting EARs for infants and children. During this discussion, Dr. Bier called for the convening of experts to develop modeling approaches and other approaches to radiotracers in a way that advances the pediatric field. For example, there is the need for reduced sampling algorithms that allow compartmental modeling. How does one develop those reduced sampling algorithms? How can multiple tracers be used to develop time series?

Dr. Allen added that there is a big need to convene a group to examine methods that are most feasible, most ethical, and most convenient. Ethical considerations would include addressing the types of studies that should be allowable by institutional review boards.

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