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Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Aug;68(2 Suppl):414S-417S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.2.414S.

Plasma zinc as a predictor of diarrheal and respiratory morbidity in children in an urban slum setting.

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ICMR Advanced Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Department of Pediatrics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.


The association between low initial plasma zinc concentration and risk of morbidity over the subsequent 3 mo was examined in a cohort of 116 children aged 12-59 mo recovering from acute diarrhea. Children with low initial plasma zinc (< or = 8.4 micromol/L) had more episodes of diarrhea [risk ratio (RR): 1.47; 95% CI: 1.03, 2.49) and severe diarrhea, defined as passage of > or = 5 liquid stools in a 24-h period, (RR: 1.70; 95% CI: 1.06, 2.72) than did children with normal plasma zinc (> 8.4 micromol/L). The mean prevalence rate of diarrhea associated with fever was 4 times higher in the zinc-deficient group (P = 0.01). Overall, the difference in the number of episodes of acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRIs) between the two groups was not statistically significant (RR: 1.76; 95% CI: 0.88-3.53) but the mean prevalence rate of ALRIs was 3.5 times higher in children with low plasma zinc (P = 0.05). The increased risk of diarrhea and ALRIs episodes in zinc-deficient children was larger in boys than in girls. These results show that children with low plasma zinc concentrations are at risk for increased diarrheal and respiratory morbidity.

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