Zinc does not speed up recovery from pneumonia in children
Administering zinc as an adjunct treatment does not appear to benefit children with pneumonia, according to the results of a meta-analysis.
Researchers searched multiple online databases for studies evaluating the effect of zinc vs placebo when given as an adjunctive treatment to standard pneumonia therapy, including antibiotics, in children aged 2–60 months in low-to-middle income countries.
The meta-analysis included seven studies conducted in South Asia, three in Africa, and one in South America. Total population comprised 6,497 children, with sample sizes varying between 95 and 2,628 patients. Except for one study, all enrolled only children with severe pneumonia. Children aged >12 months had been given zinc dosage of 20 mg per day, while those who were younger had received 10 or 20 mg daily dose.
Pooled data showed that proportional treatment failure was similar in the zinc and placebo groups in the overall population (odds ratio [OR], 0.95, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.80–1.14) and in the subgroup of children with severe pneumonia (OR, 0.93, 95 percent CI, 0.75–1.14).
Furthermore, there were no significant between-treatment differences observed in mortality (OR, 0.64, 95 percent CI, 0.31–1.31) and time to recovery from severe pneumonia (hazard ratio, 1.01, 95 percent CI, 0.89–1.14).
Exclusion of four studies with high risk of bias did not alter the results.
While zinc has many hypothetically attractive properties that may alter host response to respiratory pathogens including the regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, lymphocyte proliferation, and T lymphocyte function, findings of the present study suggest that its oral supplementation is not beneficial when used adjunctively in the acute phase of paediatric pneumonia, the researchers said.