Dose of zinc boosts recovery chances for sick babies

May 31, 2012

A simple, cheap dose of zinc helps the recovery of newborns suffering from bacterial infections such as pneumonia and meningitis, according to an Indian study reported on Thursday in The Lancet.

Doctors gave 10-milligram daily supplements of zinc to 332 babies who were being given at hospitals in New Delhi, and compared the outcome against 323 infants who were given a placebo as well as antibiotics.

The three-year probe, running from 2005 to 2008, focussed on babies aged between one week and four months.

Compared to the non-zinc group, children who were given the supplements were 40-percent less likely to experience .

This was defined as needing a second course of antibiotics within a week or intensive care, or culminating in death, the study found.

In the zinc group, 34 treatment failures occurred, compared to 55 in the .

Use of zinc also reduced the number of deaths, but not by a margin considered statistically significant.

"Zinc is an accessible, low-cost intervention that could add to the effect of antibiotic treatment and lead to substantial reductions in ," said lead researcher Shinjini Bhatnagar from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

The benefit would be highest in developing countries where several million children die from infection each year and where second-line antibiotics and intensive care may be unavailable, he said.

Zinc can be easily administered, either as a syrup or as a soluble tablet, according to the investigation.

Previous research has found that help cure diarrhoea and pneumonia in small children younger than five years old.

Still unclear is why zinc works. One theory is that the mineral has a moderating influence on the immune system, preventing over-inflammation that disrupts drug therapy and leads to .

Explore further: Pneumonia wonder drug: Zinc saves lives

Related Stories

Pneumonia wonder drug: Zinc saves lives

February 8, 2012
Respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, are the most common cause of death in children under the age of five. In a study looking at children given standard antibiotic therapy, new research published in BioMed Central's ...

Zinc supplementation does not protect young African children against malaria

November 22, 2011
A study led by Hans Verhoef, a researcher at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and published in this week's PLoS Medicine shows that supplementing young Tanzanian ...

Zinc lozenges may shorten common-cold duration

July 26, 2011
Depending on the total dosage of zinc and the composition of lozenges, zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40%, according to a study published in the Open Respiratory Medicine Journal.

Zinc lozenges may shorten common cold duration

August 16, 2011
Depending on the total dosage of zinc and the composition of lozenges, zinc lozenges may shorten the duration of common cold episodes by up to 40%, says Dr. Harri Hemila from the University of Helsinki.

Recommended for you

Ecosystem approach makes urinary tract infection more treatable

September 22, 2017
The biological term 'ecosystem' is not usually associated with urinary tract infections, but this should change according to Wageningen scientists.

Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system

September 21, 2017
For years, medical investigators have tried and failed to develop vaccines for a type of staph bacteria associated with the deadly superbug MRSA. But a new study by Cedars-Sinai investigators shows how staph cells evade the ...

Superbug's spread to Vietnam threatens malaria control

September 21, 2017
A highly drug resistant malaria 'superbug' from western Cambodia is now present in southern Vietnam, leading to alarming failure rates for dihydroartemisinin (DHA)-piperaquine—Vietnam's national first-line malaria treatment, ...

Individualized diets for irritable bowel syndrome better than placebo

September 21, 2017
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome who follow individualized diets based on food sensitivity testing experience fewer symptoms, say Yale researchers. Their study is among the first to provide scientific evidence for this ...

A dose of 'wait-and-see' reduces unnecessary antibiotic use

September 21, 2017
Asking patients to take a 'wait-and-see' approach before having their antibiotic prescriptions filled significantly reduces unnecessary use, a University of Queensland study has shown.

Groundbreaking investigative effort identifies gonorrhea vaccine candidates

September 19, 2017
Researchers at Oregon State University have identified a pair of proteins that show promise as the basis for a gonorrhea vaccine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.