Researchers in India have found that zinc supplementation, inaddition to standard antibiotics, reduces the risk of treatmentfailure among young children with suspected serious bacterialinfections by 40%. The study is published Online First in The Lancet. In 2010, nearly 66% of deaths in children under 5 around the worldwere due to infections. Of these deaths, around two-fifths occurredwithin the first month of life. |
Shinjini Bhatnagar from the Translational Health Science andTechnology Institute and All India Institute of Medical Sciences inIndia, who conducted the study, explained: "Zinc is an accessible, low-cost intervention that could add to theeffect of antibiotic treatment and lead to substantial reductions in infant mortality,particularly in developing countries where millions of children diefrom serious infections every year, and where second-lineantibiotics and appropriate intensive care might not be available." In order to evaluate how effective zinc is in addition to standardantibiotic therapy for suspected serious bacterial infections, suchas meningitis , pneumonia , and sepsis, the researchers enrolled children aged between 120days old to 7 years who were undergoing antibiotic treatment forserious infections in three hospitals in New Delhi, India. The researchers randomly assigned 352 infants to receive 10 mg zinceach day orally, and 348 to receive placebo. The researchersmeasured treatment failure as the need for secondary antibiotictreatment within 7 days, need for treatment in intensive care, ordeath within 21 days. The researchers found that children were 40% less likely toexperience treatment failure when given zinc than placebo. Out ofthe 332 children who received zinc, 34 treatment failures occurredvs.
55 treatment failures in the 323 participants who receivedplacebo. Although not statistically significant, the researchersalso found that there was a relative reduction (43%) in risk ofmortality in children given zinc. The researchers explained: "We would only need to give 15 childrenwith probable serious bacterial infection zinc to prevent onetreatment failure." They conclude: "Zinc syrup or dispersible tablets are already available in thepublic and private health-care systems for the treatment of acute diarrhea in many countries of low and middle income and the incrementalcosts to make this intervention available for young infants withprobable serious bacterial infection would be small." In a joint comment, Christa Fischer Walker and Robert Black fromJohn Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA,explained: "This finding is important because case fatality is high in infantspresenting with symptoms of probable serious bacterial infection. The exact mechanism for the effect of supplemental zinc is unknownand needs further investigation, but the clinical benefits indiarrhea and pneumonia in children younger than 5 years, and now inprobable serious infections in young infants, suggest thattherapeutic use of zinc could have wide application. Additionally,zinc would be beneficial...for other serious bacterial infections,such as those causing typhoid fever or meningitis." Written By Petra Rattue Copyright: Medical News Today Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today Additional References Citations.
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