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Effect of vitamin A and zinc supplementation on children with persistent diarrhoea

Posted:  Friday, August 19, 2016

Consequences of vitamin A and zinc supplementation on children with persistent diarrhoea

Persistent diarrhoea is characterized by loose stools, which lasts for more than two weeks. It causes malnutrition and growth retardation in children. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition investigated the effect of vitamin A (VA) and zinc supplementation in children with persistent diarrhoea.

A total of 160 children suffering from diarrhoea for more than 14 days were enrolled in the study. They were randomly allocated into one of the four intervention groups, i.e., daily VA supplementation (1,500 IU) for 14 days, daily zinc supplementation for 14 days, daily VA + zinc supplementation for 14 days or no supplementation. Clinical manifestations, VA and haemoglobin (Hb) levels were documented before and after intervention. Of the total 160 children enrolled, 33 were lost to follow-up and 127 completed the study.

Fifty-three paediatric patients were clinically diagnosed with food allergic gastrointestinal disease, 22 patients with secondary lactose intolerance, 19 patients with antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, 6 patients with an enteric infection and 15 patients with unknown causes. Results of the blood tests revealed that 41 children had anaemia, 104 had VA deficiency and 38 had iron insufficiency. The overall effectiveness rates were 93.94% for VA, 96.77% for zinc and 96.67% for both VA + zinc supplementation. A significant improvement in Hb levels was shown in children supplemented with VA and VA + zinc.

The study results showed that short-term zinc and VA + zinc supplementation can improve treatment outcomes to varying degrees. Overall, supplementation with VA, zinc or VA + zinc in children with persistent diarrhoea can improve vitamin A status, haemoglobin level and defecation. Supplementation with concurrent VA + zinc is one of the best options to shorten the duration of persistent diarrhoea and improve the nutritional status of children.

News source - Wang Y, Gao Y, Liu Q, et al. Effect of vitamin A and Zn supplementation on indices of vitamin A status, haemoglobin level and defecation of children with persistent diarrhea. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. 2016, 59(1):58-64.