Efficacy of zinc supplementation in the management of acute diarrhoea: a randomised controlled trial

Paediatr Int Child Health. 2020 May;40(2):105-110. doi: 10.1080/20469047.2019.1673548. Epub 2019 Oct 3.


Background: Zinc has been recommended for the treatment of acute diarrhoea; however, there are heterogeneous reports regarding its efficacy.Aim: This study investigated the efficacy of zinc supplementation on the treatment outcomes of children admitted to hospital with acute diarrhoea.Methods: A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in the Srinakharinwirot University Hospital's Paediatric Department, Thailand. Eligible children were randomly allocated to receive either zinc bisglycinate (15 mg elemental zinc) or a placebo. The study protocol was registered in the Thai Clinical Trials Registry (TCTR20190423004).Results: Of 86 patients, 50 (58.1%) were male and the mean age (range) was 2.5 years (6 months to 9.3 years). The median (IQR) number of hours to recovery from diarrhoea was significantly less in the zinc group than in the controls [44 (24-48) vs 52 (36-80) hours, respectively, p < 0.01]. The median (IQR) number of stools was significantly lower in the zinc group [5 (3-12)] than in the controls [7 (4-17), p = 0.02]. The median (IQR) duration of intravenous fluid therapy was 40 (24-56) hours in the zinc group and 56 (40-73) in the control group (p < 0.01). The duration of hospitalisation was 60 (44-72) hours in the zinc group and 84 (56-136) hours in the controls (p < 0.01). There was good compliance by all participants in both groups.Conclusion: Zinc supplementation can reduce the time to resolution of acute diarrhoea, the length of hospital stay and the frequency of stools. Zinc supplementation is recommended as a routine strategy for Thai children with acute diarrhoea.

Keywords: Child; antidiarrhoeals; diarrhoea; dietary supplements; gastroenteritis; randomised controlled trial; therapy; zinc.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Zinc / administration & dosage*


  • Zinc