News article

Role of zinc in infantile pneumonia

Posted:  Thursday, July 21, 2016

Impact of zinc on outcomes of pneumonia in infants

Pneumonia, a respiratory infectious disease, is one of the major causes of death in children less than 5 years of age. Low zinc levels are evidenced in infants suffering from pneumonia. Data on the impact of zinc supplementation in childhood pneumonia are inconsistent.

A non-blinded, prospective, randomised controlled trial published in the World Journal of Pediatrics investigated the status of serum zinc levels amongst infants with severe pneumonia and the clinical effect of zinc supplementation on infants with low serum zinc levels. Ninety-six infants admitted to the paediatric intensive care for severe pneumonia were selected for the study. Blood samples were drawn from all infants within 24 hours of admission to determine zinc levels. Based on the results of the blood test, infants were divided into normal zinc and low-zinc groups. Infants from the low-zinc group were further divided into treatment and control groups. Only infants from the treatment group received oral licorice zinc particles.

Out of the 96 enrolled infants, 73 had low blood zinc levels. Low zinc levels were more obvious in 1–3-month-old infants compared to 4–12-month-old infants. During the period of hospitalisation, modifications in blood zinc levels of the infants from the control group were not apparent. In the treatment group, blood zinc levels significantly increased with the length of hospitalisation.

The duration of the infant’s hospital stay was similar for both the low-zinc and normal zinc groups, indicating that blood zinc levels did not influence the severity of the disease. The blood zinc levels in the treatment group improved with zinc intervention and reached normal levels. The blood zinc levels did not change in infants who did not receive zinc supplementation.

In conclusion, infants suffering from pneumonia had zinc deficiency, which was more evident among infants aged 1–3 months. The study indicated that the blood zinc concentration did not affect the severity of pneumonia in infants. Although zinc supplementation improved the blood zinc levels in infants with zinc deficiency, no clinical benefits were observed

This investigation was a short-term observational study, with a small sample size. A long-term study with a larger sample size would be beneficial in exploring further evidence on the impact of zinc on the outcomes of pneumocia in infants.

News source - Yuan X, Qian SY, Li Z, Zhang ZZ. Effect of zinc supplementation on infants with severe pneumonia. World Journal of Pediatrics. 2016 May 1; 12(2):166-9.