Pathology (East Africa)
Background: Zinc supplementation in young children has been associated with reductions in the incidence and severity of diarrheal diseases, acute respiratory infections, and malaria.
Objective: The objective was to evaluate the potential role of zinc as an adjunct in the treatment of acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria; a multicenter, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial was undertaken.
Design: Children (n = 1087) aged 6 mo to 5 y were enrolled at sites in Ecuador, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Children with fever and ≥ 2000 asexual forms of Plasmodium falciparum/μL in a thick blood smear received chloroquine and were randomly assigned to receive zinc (20 mg/d for infants, 40 mg/d for older children) or placebo for 4 d.
Results: There was no effect of zinc on the median time to reduction of fever (zinc group: 24.2 h; placebo group: 24.0 h; P = 0.37), a ≥75% reduction in parasitemia from baseline in the first 72 h in 73.4% of the zinc group and in 77.6% of the placebo group (P = 0.11), and no significant change in hemoglobin concentration during the 3-d period of hospitalization and the 4 wk of follow-up. Mean plasma zinc concentrations were low in all children at baseline (zinc group: 8.54 ± 3.93 μmol/L; placebo group: 8.34 ± 3.25 μmol/L), but children who received zinc supplementation had higher plasma zinc concentrations at 72 h than did those who received placebo (10.95 ± 3.63 compared with 10.16 ± 3.25 μmol/L, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Zinc does not appear to provide a beneficial effect in the treatment of acute, uncomplicated falciparum malaria in preschool children.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
(2002). Effect of zinc on the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in children: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 76(4), 805-812.
Available at: http://ecommons.aku.edu/eastafrica_fhs_mc_pathol/84