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Pediatrics. 2007 Oct;120(4):e846-55.

Effect of vitamin A and zinc supplementation on gastrointestinal parasitic infections among Mexican children.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. k.long@uq.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Gastrointestinal parasites continue to be an important cause of morbidity and stunting among children in developing countries. We evaluated the effect of vitamin A and zinc supplementation on infections by Giardia lamblia, Ascaris lumbricoides, and Entamoeba histolytica.

METHODS:

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted among 707 children who were 6 to 15 months of age and from periurban areas of Mexico City, Mexico, between January 2000 and May 2002. Children, who were assigned to receive either vitamin A every 2 months, a daily zinc supplement, a combined vitamin A and zinc supplement, or a placebo, were followed for 1 year. The primary end points were the 12-month rates and durations of infection for the 3 parasites and rates of parasite-associated diarrheal disease as determined in stools collected once a month and after diarrheal episodes.

RESULTS:

G. lamblia infections were reduced and A. lumbricoides infections increased among children in the combined vitamin A and zinc group or the zinc alone group, respectively. Durations of Giardia infections were reduced among children in all 3 treatment arms, whereas Ascaris infections were reduced in the vitamin A and zinc group. In contrast, E. histolytica infection durations were longer among zinc-supplemented children. Finally, E. histolytica- and A. lumbricoides-associated diarrheal episodes were reduced among children who received zinc alone or a combined vitamin A and zinc supplement, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

We found that vitamin A and zinc supplementation was associated with distinct parasite-specific health outcomes. Vitamin A plus zinc reduces G. lamblia incidence, whereas zinc supplementation increases A. lumbricoides incidence but decreases E. histolytica-associated diarrhea.

PMID:
17908741
DOI:
10.1542/peds.2006-2187
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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