Zinc Improves Survival in Low-Birth-Weight Infants
Cuts Infectious Disease Mortality by 68%
By Laurie Barclay, MD
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD
Jan. 8, 2002 -- Zinc supplementation in low-birth-weight infants improves survival, according to a study reported in the December issue of Pediatrics. This research extends previous findings of low zinc concentrations in cord blood of low-birth-weight infants, as well as the associations between children with zinc deficiency and reduced immunocompetence and increased infectious disease morbidity.
"Zinc supplementation in small-for-gestational-age infants can result in a substantial reduction in infectious disease mortality," write Sunil Sazawal, PhD, and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University.
In this randomized, double-blind, controlled trial, 1,154 full-term, small-for-gestational-age infants received one of the following: riboflavin; riboflavin and zinc (5 mg as sulfate); riboflavin, calcium, phosphorus, folate, and iron; or riboflavin, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, folate, and iron. Each child received a fixed dosage of 5 mL in syrup daily from 30 to 284 days of age.
Zinc supplementation was associated with a 68% reduction in mortality. Although there was a 12% reduction in mortality with calcium, phosphorus, folate, and iron supplementation, this was not statistically significant.
"The potential of interventions to improve zinc status and reduce infant mortality has important implications for child survival in developing countries," the authors write.