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Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun;97(6):1387-94. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.052951. Epub 2013 May 1.

Efficacy of zinc given as an adjunct in the treatment of severe and very severe pneumonia in hospitalized children 2-24 mo of age: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

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Centre for Diarrheal Diseases and Nutrition Research, Department of Pediatrics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.



Pneumonia is a leading cause of death; in India, an estimated 370,000 children die of pneumonia each year. Zinc has multiple influences on the immune response to infections. Zinc supplementation has been shown to prevent diarrhea and pneumonia in children. However, zinc's therapeutic effect on respiratory infections is less clear.


We evaluated the role of zinc as an adjunct to antibiotics in the treatment of children hospitalized for severe or very severe pneumonia.


In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 550 children aged 2-24 mo with severe or very severe pneumonia. Within each hospital and pneumonia-severity stratum, children were randomly assigned to receive zinc (20 mg elemental zinc/d) or a placebo in addition to antibiotics and supportive care.


The time to recovery from severe or very severe pneumonia was similar in both groups (HR: 0.98; 95% CI: 0.82, 1.17). In the stratified analysis, zinc was shown to be efficacious in reducing the time to recovery in children with very severe pneumonia (HR: 1.52; 95% CI: 1.03, 2.23); however, the effect was no longer statistically significant after adjustment for differences in severely underweight children in the 2 groups.


This study showed no overall benefit of the addition of zinc to antibiotics in reducing the time to recovery from pneumonia but showed a possible benefit of zinc supplementation in a subgroup of children with very severe pneumonia. Additional research is needed in specific subgroups such as children with very severe pneumonia. This trial was registered at as ISRCTN48954234.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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