An international study has shown treating young children with zinc plus standard antibiotics greatly reduces the duration of severe pneumonia.
In a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, as well as in the United Kingdom and Bangladesh, 270 children -- ages 2 months to 23 months -- who were being treated for severe pneumonia at a hospital in Bangladesh, received either a 20 milligram dose of zinc daily or a placebo in addition to the standard antibiotic treatment. The children who received zinc had a shorter duration of severe pneumonia symptoms compared to children who received the placebo.
Zinc therapy reduced the duration of severe pneumonia and overall hospital stay by an average of one day. However, the researchers said, zinc did not affect the overall length of hospital stay or the duration of severe pneumonia of children with wheezing. Only two children in the study's zinc group had failure of treatment with the initial standard antibiotics, compared to 11 in the placebo group.
Pneumonia is a leading cause of illness and death among children under age 5, particularly in the developing world.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International