February 8, 2012
Pneumonia Wonder Drug: Zinc Saves Lives
Respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, are the most common cause of death in children under the age of five. In a study looking at children given standard antibiotic therapy, new research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Medicine shows how zinc supplements drastically improved children's chances of surviving the infection. The increase in survival due to zinc (on top of antibiotics) was even greater for HIV infected children.
In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 350 children, aged from six months to five years old, were treated with standard antibiotic therapy at Mulago Hospital. Half the children were given zinc and the other half a placebo.
Prof James Tumwine explained, "Zinc is known to bolster the immune system and zinc deficiency is rife all over the developed, and developing, world. In Uganda, where this study was performed, zinc deficiency in some areas can be as high as 70%. We would only need to give 13 of these children with pneumonia zinc on top of their antibiotics to save one life. This equates to about 4 USD — a small price to pay."
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