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Efficiency of zinc supplementation in preventing recurrence of febrile seizure

Posted:  Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Impact of zinc supplementation on recurrence of febrile seizure

Zinc is essential for cell division, immune function, protein synthesis, and wound healing. Low blood zinc levels are associated with the development of febrile seizure (FS) in children. FS is defined as convulsions associated with a febrile illness; FS is classified as simple or complex FS. A study published in the journal Nutrition assessed the efficacy and safety of oral zinc supplementation on the prevention of FS recurrence in non-zinc-deficient children.

The randomised, single-blinded clinical study enrolled 100 children who were 18–60 months old and had a history of first simple FS. The children were randomly allocated into treatment group (n=50) and control group (n=50). For 6 months, the treatment group received 2 mg/kg/day of zinc sulphate, while the control group received placebo. Children were followed-up every 3 months for 1 year for recurrence of FS or any side effects. The height and weight of the children were measured, and their developmental status was assessed using the Denver II Developmental Screening Test.

Age, height, weight, gender, family history of FS, and blood levels of zinc were similar in the treatment and control groups. A total of 32 children had episodes of FS, with a mean occurrence time of 6.3 months. FS occurred in 11 children in the zinc-treated group and 19 children in the control group.

Children supplemented with zinc had fewer episodes of FS compared to the placebo group. The occurrence of FS was more common in boys compared to girls. FS was more common in children with a family history of seizures and those with lower blood zinc levels. However, none of the children had zinc deficiency. Gastrointestinal side effects such as vomiting (5 children), heartburn (2 children) and abdominal pain (1 child) were reported in the zinc-treated group. These side effects were mild, self-limiting, and comparable between the two groups.

According to the findings of the study, zinc supplementation was effective and safe in preventing the recurrence of FS. However, this was a short-term study conducted on a small sample size. Hence, long-term research with a larger sample size is required to further substantiate the efficacy of zinc in preventing the recurrence of FS.

News source - Fallah R, Sabbaghzadegan S, Karbasi SA, Binesh F. Efficacy of zinc sulfate supplement on febrile seizure recurrence prevention in children with normal serum zinc level: A randomised clinical trial. Nutrition. 2015 Dec 31; 31(11):1358–61.