Background: Routine zinc supplementation is a potential intervention for the prevention of acute lower respiratory infections in developing countries. However discrepant findings from recent randomized trials remain unexplained.
Methods: Single centre, single arm, prospective non-randomized, open label interventional study, of effect of zinc supplementation in zinc deficient children aged 6 months to 5 years. 465 healthy children aged 6 months to 5 years were enrolled in the study. The primary outcome was the prevalence of serum zinc deficiency. Children having zinc deficiency were recruited for the study of effect of oral administration of zinc 20 mg for 2 weeks. The secondary outcomes were incidence and duration of acute upper respiratory and acute lower respiratory infections per child-year and side effects after giving zinc therapy.
Results: There was significant difference in mid arm circumference in between zinc deficient and non-zinc deficient groups (p < 0.001). Also the number of episodes of acute upper respiratory infections (AURI) and mean duration of AURI and acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) was significantly different in the two groups (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in ALRI episodes in two groups. After zinc supplementation in zinc deficient children, there was significant decrease in the number of episodes and mean duration of AURI (p < 0.001) and ALRI (p < 0.001) in six months after supplementation as compared to preceding six months before supplementation.
Conclusion: This study sheds light on the efficacy of short course prophylactic zinc supplementation in reducing the burden of ARI among zinc deficient children. Future studies should assess the effectiveness of delivering prophylactic zinc supplementation at scale, comparing the feasibility and cost benefit of short course and continuous regimens.
Clinical Trial Number: As it was a Non Randomized observational single arm study, study was not registered. Only RCT needs to be registered.
Funding Statement: This study was funded by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Manuscript Jodhpur, India, as a part of Intramural project conducted in the department of Pediatrics, AIIMS Jodhpur.
Declaration of Interests: We declare no competing interests.
Ethics Approval Statement: The study was approved by Institutional Ethics committee of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur, India. The study was conducted in accordance with ICH-GCP and other applicable regulatory guidelines.