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Effects of zinc supplementation on the incidence of mortality in preschool children: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 11;8(11):e79998. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079998.

Fu WDing LRZhuang CZhou YH.

Source: Department of Pediatrics, Shanghai Seventh People’s Hospital, Shanghai, China.

BACKGROUND:

Previous trials have shown that zinc supplementation can decrease the risk of diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria in children; however, the effects of zinc supplementation on mortality remain unclear. This study aimed at evaluating the benefits and risks of zinc supplementation on both total mortality and cause-specific mortality.

METHODOLOGY AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

We searched PubMed, EmBase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials to identify randomized controlled trials in preschool children reporting total mortality or cause-specific mortality. Relative risk (RR) was used as a measure of the effect of zinc supplementation on the risk of mortality using a random effect model. Of the 1,520 identified articles, we included 8 trials reporting data on 87,854 children. Overall, zinc supplementation had no effect on total mortality (RR, 0.76; 95% CI: 0.56-1.04; P = 0.084), diarrhea-related mortality (RR, 0.80; 95% CI: 0.53-1.20; P = 0.276), pneumonia-related mortality (RR, 0.52; 95% CI: 0.11-2.39; P = 0.399), malaria-related mortality (RR, 0.90; 95% CI: 0.77-1.06; P = 0.196), or other causes of mortality (RR, 0.98; 95% CI: 0.67-1.44; P = 0.917). Subgroup analysis indicated that zinc supplementation was associated with a reduction in total mortality risk if the participants were boys, aged greater than 12 months, and the duration of the follow-up period was less than 12 months.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

Zinc supplementation does not have an effect on total mortality, diarrhea-related mortality, pneumonia-related mortality, malaria-related mortality, or other causes of mortality. Subgroup analysis suggested that zinc supplementation can effectively reduce the risk of total mortality if the participants were boys, aged greater than 12 months, and the duration of the follow-up period was less than 12 months.

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