TitleZinc as an adjunct to the treatment of severe pneumonia in Ecuadorian children: a randomized controlled trial
AuthorsSempértegui F, Estrella B, Rodríguez O, Gómez D, Cabezas M, Salgado G, Sabin LL, Hamer DH
PublicationAm J Clin Nutr.. 2014 Mar;.


Studies of zinc as an adjunct to treatment of severe pneumonia in children have shown mixed results, possibly because of poor information on zinc status and respiratory pathogens.


We evaluated the effect of zinc given with standard antimicrobial treatment on the duration of respiratory signs in children with severe pneumonia. Zinc status and pathogens were assessed.


Children aged 2–59 mo with severe pneumonia who were admitted to the main children's hospital in Quito, Ecuador, were given standard antibiotics and randomly allocated to receive zinc supplements twice daily or a placebo. Measurements included anthropometric variables, breastfeeding, hemoglobin, plasma zinc, and common bacteria/viral respiratory pathogens. The primary outcome was time to resolution of respiratory signs. The secondary outcome was treatment failure.


We enrolled 225 children in each group. There was no difference between groups in time to resolution of respiratory signs or treatment failure; pathogens were not associated with outcomes. Tachypnea and hypoxemia resolved faster in older children (P = 0.0001) than in younger ones. Higher basal zinc concentration (P = 0.011) and better height-for-age z score (HAZ) (P = 0.044) were associated with faster resolution of chest indrawing. Better weight-for-height z score (WHZ) (P = 0.031) and HAZ (P = 0.048) were associated with faster resolution of tachypnea. Increased C-reactive protein was associated with a longer duration of tachypnea (P = 0.044).


Zinc did not affect time to pneumonia resolution or treatment failure, nor did type of respiratory pathogens affect outcomes. Higher basal zinc and better HAZ and WHZ were associated with reduced time to resolution of respiratory signs. These results suggest the need for prevention of chronic zinc deficiency and improvement of general nutritional status among Ecuadorian children. This trial was registered at as NCT 00513929.