Zinc deficiency is prevalent in developing countries and has adverse effects on child health. Decreased or abnormal immune function in children can occur as a consequence of zinc deficiency, either during gestation or after delivery, and may impair host defenses against infectious diseases. Controlled trials of therapy of acute and persistent diarrhea have consistently demonstrated that zinc-supplemented children have diarrheal episodes of shorter duration and reduced severity. Controlled trials of zinc supplementation in the prevention of infectious diseases have demonstrated reductions in the incidences of diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria, the most common causes of death in children in developing countries. Preliminary evidence from one controlled trial in full-term small-for-gestational-age infants in India found a two-thirds reduction in mortality with zinc supplementation. In conclusion, zinc deficiency reduces immune function and increases the risk of morbidity and mortality, from infectious disease in children in developing countries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Nutrition and Dietetics