Neonatal zinc supplementation for prevention of mortality and morbidity in breastfed low birth weight infants

Read the full review here [Note: not open access – pay per view]

In view of no convincing evidence of benefits from the limited data available currently, there is no justification for recommending routine zinc supplementation for breastfed low birth weight newborns in these populations. Future research and trials on this subject should examine: outcomes in more settings in Asia and Africa; and should be adequately powered to estimate mortality.

Existing observational data has suggested that higher levels of zinc in the diet may be needed to meet the needs of low-birth-weight (LBW), breast-fed infants. This review aims to evaluate whether zinc supplements prevent mortality and morbidity in breastfed LBW infants. Three trials were included in this review following risk of bias assessments, with one trial deemed not adequately powered for drawing certain conclusions. Limited data did not show a reduced risk of mortality, hospitalization rate, acute respiratory infection, or diarrhea with zinc supplementation. No evidence of an increase in height or weight with zinc supplementation was observed. There was also no evidence to suggest an increase in rates of vomiting with supplementation. Serum zinc levels at the end of intervention were significantly higher in the supplemented group. There is insufficient evidence to provide justification for recommending routine zinc supplementation for breastfed LBW newborns in developing countries.

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