Treatment with zinc seems to accelerate recovery from severe pneumonia in children who live in areas where zinc deficiency is common, according to a study conducted in Bangladesh.
Treatment with zinc seems to accelerate recovery from severe pneumonia in children who live in areas where zinc deficiency is common, according to a study conducted in Bangladesh. Zinc is used in Bangladesh to treat diarrhea and to prevent pneumonia, Dr. W. Abdullah Brooks, at the Center for Health and Population Research in Dhaka, and colleagues note in their report in the medical journal The Lancet. They attribute the beneficial effects to enhanced immune response and decreased lung inflammation. For their study, the investigators enrolled children ages 2 to 23 months admitted to Matlab Hospital for severe pneumonia. Treatment with zinc or inactive “placebo” pills was started within 1 hour of the first dose of antibiotics. Compared with other children, kids treated with zinc experienced a more rapid improvement in their breathing rate and oxygen levels. Moreover, the severity of pneumonia improved faster in zinc-treated kids. Lastly, children who received zinc were able to leave the hospital about 1 day earlier than their peers. In addition, the authors estimate that treatment with zinc could result in substantial cost savings. The benefits of adding zinc to antibiotic therapy would probably be realized in other low-income settings but not in developed countries, co-author Dr. Robert E. Black, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told Reuters Health. “Recent analysis of US dietary data suggest that zinc deficiency is uncommon there,” he explained. (Source: The Lancet, Reuters Health, May 2004)