Role of zinc supplementation in acute respiratory tract infections in children aged 2 to 60 months

Bindu T. Nair, Rabindra Bhunia, Kuldeep Kumar Sharma


Background: Zinc has a major role in improving immune function and decreasing morbidity in various infectious diseases like acute respiratory tract infections, diarrhoeal diseases etc. The objective of the study was to study the effect of zinc supplementation on clinical manifestations, progress of illness and duration of acute respiratory infections.

Methods: A randomized double blind controlled study was conducted in the Paediatric ward of a tertiary care hospital in New Delhi in 50 children aged 2 to 60 months. Children with previous episodes of wheezing, severe malnutrition, congenital heart diseases, pneumonia, history of taking multiple micronutrient formulations or zinc for any intercurrent illnesses like diarrhoea in the previous month prior to admission and history of any known immuno-deficiency disease or on any immunosuppressive medications(steroids) or anti malignancy treatment were excluded. Both placebo (syrup base) and zinc syrup (20 mg/5 mL elemental zinc as zinc sulfate) were given orally for a period of 14 days to the respective groups. Statistical analysis used: Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 22.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.). Chi-square test was done for qualitative variables and t-test was used for quantitative variables. P<0.05 was considered as statistically significant.

Results: The mean age of zinc group was 22.77 months (SD - 5.74) and that of placebo group was 22.86 months (SD - 5.88) with a p value of 0.98 which was not statistically significant. There were no significant differences in the clinical features in the two groups before starting therapy or after treatment at 24, 48 and 72 hours (P>0.05).

Conclusions: Zinc supplementation during episode of ARI did not show any substantial benefit in reducing duration or morbidity in children aged 2-60 months. 


Acute lower respiratory tract infections, Children, Cyanosis, Tachypnea, Zinc syrup

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