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Zinc boosts survival chances for poor infants: medical study


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PARIS, Aug 23 (AFP) - Babies in developing countries who take a weekly dose of zinc can boost their chances of avoiding fatal pneumonia and diarrhoea, according to a study published online Tuesday by the British journal The Lancet.

Bangladeshi doctors recruited 1,621 children aged two months to a year, half of whom were given a weekly 70-milligramme dose of zinc while the other half were given a dummy lookalike called a placebo.

The death rate in the zinc group was 85 percent lower than in the placebo group. The zinc-taking infants were also slightly taller, but no different in weight, when compared with their placebo counterparts.

According to the UN's World Health Organisation (WHO), pneumonia killed two million children aged under five from 2000 to 2003. Diarrhoea claims an additional 1.9 million lives each year among this group.

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COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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