Zinc supplementation in children is not associated with decreases in hemoglobin concentrations.

Research paper by Louise H LH Dekker, Eduardo E Villamor

Indexed on: 26 Mar '10Published on: 26 Mar '10Published in: The Journal of nutrition


Zinc supplementation has proven beneficial in the treatment of acute child diarrhea and appears to enhance linear growth. There is a theoretical risk of anemia in zinc-supplemented children due to inhibited iron transport via decreased copper absorption. Although many zinc supplementation trials have included hematological measures, the potential effect of zinc on these outcomes has not been quantitatively evaluated in a comprehensive review. We performed a systematic review of randomized trials that examined the effect of zinc supplementation on hemoglobin concentrations in apparently healthy children ages 0-15 y and conducted a random effects meta-analysis of weighted mean differences (WMD) of change in hemoglobin concentrations before and after supplementation. Twenty-one randomized, controlled trials representing 3869 participants were included in the meta-analysis. The duration of treatment ranged from 4 to 15 mo; doses were typically 10-20 mg/d. Zinc supplementation did not affect changes in hemoglobin concentrations (pooled WMD: 0.8 g/L; 95% CI: -0.6, 2.2; P = 0.27). There was no evidence for effect modification by age, zinc dosage, duration of treatment, type of control, baseline hemoglobin status, geographical or healthcare setting, or quality of the studies. These results suggest that zinc supplementation at doses typically used in randomized trials is a safe intervention with regards to hemoglobin concentrations. Some benefits might exist among children with severe anemia or zinc deficiency, which warrant further evaluation.