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Preventive zinc, micronutrient powders do not improve child growth

02 Apr 2019

Using preventive zinc and micronutrient powder supplementation does not appear to improve growth in children, a recent study has found.

Researchers randomized 2,943 children to receive 7 mg/d of preventive zinc tablets (n=738; mean age 14.1±5.1 months; 50.1 percent male), high-zinc low-iron micronutrient powder (n=701; mean age 14.3±5.0 months; 50.8 percent male), 20 mg/d therapeutic zinc for diarrhoea (n=764; mean age 14.5±5.2 months; 51.3 percent male) or daily placebo powder (n=740; mean age 14.1±5.1 months; 52.0 percent male). All participants were followed for approximately 9 months.

The prevalence rates of stunting and anaemia in the study sample were 40 percent and 55 percent, respectively. Only 14 percent met the WHO criteria for adequate dietary diversity. Adherence rates corresponded to a total approximate intake of 6.5 mg in the preventive zinc group and of 9.0 mg in the micronutrient powder group.

Mean adjusted length of participants were comparable among the preventive zinc, micronutrient powder, therapeutic zinc and control groups (79.0±4.8 vs 79.2±4.8 vs 79.2±5.0 vs 79.3±4.9 cm, respectively; p=0.41).

A similarly null among-group difference was observed for participant weight (9.52±1.25 vs 9.58±1.32 vs 9.63±1.41 vs 9.63±1.32 kg, respectively; p=0.92).

The supplement interventions likewise had no significant impact on the percentage of participants with stunting (preventive zinc, micronutrient powder, therapeutic zinc, control: 47.0 percent vs 47.0 percent vs 49.6 percent vs 44.4 percent, respectively; p=0.37) or who were underweight (28.9 percent vs 26.1 percent vs 28.5 percent vs 30.4 percent, respectively; p=0.45).

On the other hand, both preventive zinc and micronutrient powder resulted in significant improvements in zinc status.

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