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Zinc supplementation and psychosocial stimulation: effects on the development of undernourished Jamaican children1,2,3 *

Background: Undernourished children have poor levels of development that benefit from stimulation. Zinc deficiency is prevalent in undernourished children and may contribute to their poor development.

Objective: We assessed the effects of zinc supplementation and psychosocial stimulation given together or separately on the psychomotor development of undernourished children.

Design: This was a randomized controlled trial with 4 groups: stimulation alone, zinc supplementation alone, both interventions, and control (routine care only). Subjects were 114 children aged 9–30 mo and below –1.5 z scores of the National Center for Health Statistics weight-for-age references who were recruited from 18 health clinics. Clinics were randomly assigned to receive stimulation or not; individual children were randomly assigned to receive zinc or placebo. The stimulation program comprised weekly home visits during which play was demonstrated and maternal-child interactions were encouraged. The supplementation was 10 mg Zn as sulfate daily or placebo. Development (assessed by use of the Griffiths Mental Development Scales), length, and weight were measured at baseline and 6 mo later. Weekly morbidity histories were taken.

Results: Significant interactions were found between zinc supplementation and stimulation. Zinc benefited the developmental quotient only in children who received stimulation, and benefits from zinc to hand and eye coordination were greater in stimulated children. Zinc supplementation alone improved hand and eye coordination, and stimulation alone benefited the developmental quotient, hearing and speech, and performance. Zinc supplementation also reduced diarrheal morbidity but did not significantly improve growth.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 08-11-2008
Authors: Julie M Meeks Gardner, Christine A Powell, Helen Baker-Henningham, Susan P Walker, Tim J Cole and Sally M Grantham-McGregor
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 82, No. 2, 399-405, August 2005