Objective - To evaluate the impact of zinc supplementation on the clinical course, stool weight, duration of diarrhoea, changes in serum zinc, and body weight gain of children with acute diarrhoea. Design - Randomised double blind controlled trial. Children were assigned to receive zinc (20 mg elemental zinc per day) containing multivitamins or control group (zinc-free multivitamins) daily in three divided doses for two weeks. Setting - A diarrhoeal disease hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Patients - 111 children, 3 to 24 months old, below 76% median weight for age of the National Center for Health Statistics standard with acute diarrhoea. Children with severe infection and/or oedema were excluded. Main outcome measures - Total diarrhoeal stool output, duration of diarrhoea, rate of weight gain, and changes in serum zinc levels after supplementation. Results - Stool output was 28% less and duration 14% shorter in the zinc supplemented group than placebo (p = 0.06). There were reductions in median total diarrhoeal stool output among zinc supplemented subjects who were shorter (less than 95% height for age), 239 v 326 g/kg (p < 0.04), and who had a lower initial serum zinc (<14 mmol/l), 279 v 329 g/kg (p < 0.05); a shortening of mean time to recovery occurred (4.7 v 6.2 days, p < 0.04) in those with lower serum zinc. There was an increase in mean serum zinc in the zinc supplemented group (+2.4 v -0.3 μmol/l, p < 0.001) during two weeks of supplementation, and better mean weight gain (120 v 30 g, p < 0.03) at the time of discharge from hospital. Conclusions - Zinc supplementation is a simple, acceptable, and affordable strategy which should be considered in the management of acute diarrhoea and in prevention of growth faltering in children specially those who are malnourished.
- Acute diarrhoea
- Weight gain
- Zinc supplementation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health