Serum zinc levels and effect of zinc and vitamin A supplementation in children with diarrhea: a randomized control study

Nageswara Rao Kalvakuri, Sushma Nalisetty


Background: Zinc deficiency affects about two billion people in the developing world and is associated with many diseases. Zinc is crucial for normal development and function of cells mediating nonspecific immunity such as neutrophils and natural killer cells. Zinc supplementation has been shown to be effective for preventing diarrhea in children. Vitamin A helps to regulate the immune system, which helps to prevent or fight off infections by making white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.

Methods: In this randomized control study 82 children aged 6months to 5 years were randomized 52 in the group of acute diarrhoea and 30 in the control group. Blood samples were drawn for estimation of serum zinc levels. Children in the acute diarrhoea group 23 received zinc alone and 23 received zinc and vitamin A and followed up for 6 months.

Results: The serum zinc levels were significantly lower in children with acute diarrhea (66.7µg/dl) as compared to that of the children in the control group (80.5433 µg/dl) (p=<0.001). The children with malnourishment had a mean zinc level that was significantly lesser (p=<0.01). In the acute diarrhea group, children receiving zinc supplementation alone, 10 of the children had at least 1 episode of diarrhea over the next 6 months. Children receiving zinc and vitamin A supplementation, there were only 5 such children with at least 1 episode of acute diarrhea.

Conclusions: Combination of zinc and vitamin A supplementation in acute diarrhea decreases the chances of recurrence of diarrhoea and reduces the hospital stay significantly.


Acute diarrhoea, Vitamin A, Zinc

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