Zinc in child health and disease

Indian J Pediatr. 2004 Nov;71(11):991-5. doi: 10.1007/BF02828114.


Zinc deficiency is common in children from developing countries due to lack of intake of animal foods, high dietary phytate content, inadequate food intake and increased fecal losses during diarrhea. Zinc has a fundamental role in cellular metabolism, with profound effects on the immune system and the intestinal mucosa. Zinc supplementation has shown significant benefits in prevention and treatment of diarrhea and pneumonia. Routine zinc supplementation given to low birth weight babies for a year has resulted in substantial reduction in mortality. Zinc deficiency may have adverse effects on physical growth and neurodevelopment. WHO Task Force, 2001, and the National task Force of IAP has recommended use of zinc in the treatment of diarrhea. It is also recommended as part of standard case management in persistent diarrhea and in those with severe malnutrition. Further evidence is required for qualifying its use in treatment of other infective diseases like pneumonia and malaria. Improved dietary quality & intake, food fortification and cultivation of zinc dense plants are some ways of mitigating zinc deficiency.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Child Development / physiology
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Malaria / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Trace Elements / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*


  • Trace Elements
  • Zinc