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Zinc or vitamin A reduced diarrhoea in young, poor Bangladeshi children

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 QUESTION: In young, poor children in Bangladesh, does supplementation with zinc or vitamin A, or both, reduce diarrhoea and acute lower respiratory infection (LRI)?


Randomised (allocation concealed*), blinded (clinicians, patients, outcome assessors, and statisticians),* placebo controlled trial with 6 months of follow up.


Urban slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


800 children who were 12 to 35 months of age were enrolled. Exclusion criteria were receipt of a vitamin A capsule in the previous 4 months or severe malnourishment. 665 children (83%) (mean age 24 mo, 53% boys) completed the trial.


Children were allocated to zinc syrup (20 mg of elemental zinc), 5 ml/day (n=170); vitamin A, 200 000 IU (n=159); zinc plus vitamin A (n=175); or placebo (n=161). Zinc or placebo syrup was given for 14 days, and on day 14 patients received a vitamin …

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  • * See glossary.

  • Source of funding: Thrasher Research Fund.

  • For correspondence: Dr M M Rahman, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA. mujib_99{at}