Micronutrients and child health: studies in international nutrition and HIV infection

Nutr Rev. 2001 Nov;59(11):358-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2001.tb06963.x.


Increasing data link micronutrient deficiencies to excess childhood morbidity and mortality, and similar relationships have been noted in the study of nutrition and HIV infection. We review epidemiologic studies that have examined the relationship between micronutrient deficiencies and health outcomes in childhood and HIV infection, as well as clinical trials of micronutrient supplementation. Vitamin A supplementation among communities at risk of deficiency effectively reduces mortality and morbidity in children younger than age 5, and vitamin A may be especially effective in HIV-infected children. Vertical transmission of HIV has not to date been affected by maternal micronutrient supplementation. In children with poor dietary zinc intake and/or bioavailability, zinc supplementation reduces the incidence and severity of diarrheal diseases, as well as the occurrence of pneumonia. Vitamin A therapy has not been associated with improved growth, whereas some trials have shown that zinc supplementation is associated with greater increments in height. Further trials of micronutrient supplementation are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / mortality
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Micronutrients / deficiency*
  • Morbidity
  • Nutrition Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Nutrition Disorders / mortality
  • Pregnancy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / deficiency


  • Micronutrients
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc