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Int J Epidemiol. 2003 Dec;32(6):1098-102.

Effect of zinc supplementation on growth in West African children: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in rural Burkina Faso.

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  • 1Department of Tropical Hygiene and Public Health, Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, Medical School, Heidelberg, Germany.



To analyse the effects of zinc supplementation on growth parameters in a representative sample of young children in rural Burkina Faso. Design Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled efficacy trial. Setting Eighteen villages in rural northwestern Burkina Faso. Subjects In all, 709 children aged 6-31 months were enrolled; 685 completed the trial. Intervention Supplementation with zinc (12.5 mg zinc sulphate) or placebo daily for 6 days a week for 6 months. Outcomes Weight, length/height, mid-arm circumference, and serum zinc.


In a representative subsample of study children, 72% were zinc-deficient at baseline. After supplementation, serum zinc increased in zinc-supplemented but not in control children of the subsample. No significant differences between groups were observed during follow-up regarding length/height, weight, mid-arm circumference, and z scores for height-for-age, weight-for-age, and weight-for-height.


We conclude that zinc supplementation does not have an effect of public health importance on growth in West African populations of young children with a high prevalence of malnutrition. Multinutrient interventions are likely to be more effective.

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