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Health Line


NEW evidence from Ethiopia suggests that a zinc deficiency plays a large part in causing stunted growth in infants, according to a report.

A team of researchers from Ethiopia and the Netherlands studied 184 infants aged 6-12 months in the Dodota district of central Ethiopia. All of the children were free of disease and appeared healthy. except for the fact that 90 of them were abnormally small for their age.

In fact, the smaller children were on average 5 cm shorter and 1 kg lighter than their same age counterparts. The 90 stunted infants and the 94 normal length infants were each divided into two groups.

Half the stunted infants and half the normal infants received a 10-mg zinc supplement six days per week for six months. The other half of each group received inactive (placebo) supplements, the researchers said in The Lancet.

Zinc supplementation had a dramatic impact on the growth rate of stunted infants. Those taking the real zinc supplement grew an average of 7 cm during the study while those taking the placebo grew just under 3 cm.

Meanwhile, non stunted children taking zinc grew by an average of 6.6 cm while those taking a placebo grew 5 cm, suggesting that they already had enough zinc to achieve normal growth, Dr. Melaku Umeta of the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute in Addis Ababa and colleagues said.

There was no difference between boys and girls in their response to zinc, the team added. Zinc also seemed to help the infants gain weight.

As reported in Business Line News Service

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