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Challenge to zinc treatment

Tues May 5th, 2009

New findings challenge the widely held view that zinc supplements can help treat diarrhoea in children.

A study in India has found that they do not work.

Some 808 children in Nagpur, India, took part in the research which studied the effects of zinc and copper supplements.

Researcher Dr Archana Patel also found that copper supplements had no benefits.

Writing in the journal BMC Medicine, Dr Patel, of the Lata Medical Research Foundation, India, calls for a fresh look at research which suggests zinc can help with treatment.

She said last night: "The expected beneficial effects of zinc supplementation for acute diarrhoea were not observed.

"Therapeutic zinc or zinc and copper supplementation may not have a universal beneficial impact on the duration of acute diarrhea in children."

One possibility is that many studies have combined zinc with multi-vitamins. Another is that the benefits of zinc may be effected by whether children have zinc deficiency at the outset.

Archana Patel, Michael J Dibley, Manju Mamtani, Neetu Badhoniya and Hemant Kulkarni BMC Medicine (in press)

Tags: Child Health | Nutrition & Healthy Eating | Asia | Gastroenterology

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