Weekly Zinc Supplements Can Reduce Deaths In Young Children
From 2000 to 2003, pneumonia caused 2 million of 10·6 million deaths among childrenyounger than 5 years worldwide. Diarrhoea causes a further 1·9 million deaths in this groupannually. Daily regimens of zinc have been reported to prevent acute lower respiratory tractinfection and diarrhoea, and reduce child mortality.
Abdullah Brooks (International Centre for Diarrhoea Disease Research, Dhaka, Bangladesh)and colleagues looked at whether giving children zinc weekly could prevent clinicalpneumonia* and diarrhoea in children younger than two years. Between April 1999 andAugust 2000 the investigators recruited 1621 children aged 2–12 months from Kamalapur,Bangladesh. Half the children were assigned to a weekly 70 mg dose of zinc and half toplacebo. The investigators found mortality was reduced by 85% in the group assigned zinc.Children younger than 12 months in this group also had less pneumonia and diarrhoea thanthose on placebo.
Dr Brooks states: “Zinc substantially reduced the incidence of pneumonia and other upperand lower respiratory tract disease, and modestly reduced that of diarrhoea. However, theeffect of zinc on mortality was strong . . . Zinc might be progressively protective against moreinvasive and severe disease, leading to an 85% reduction in overall mortality, primarily owingto pneumonia.”
Dr W Abdullah Brooks, Programme of Infectious Diseases & Vaccine Sciences, Health Systems InfectiousDiseases Division, ICDDRB Centre for Health & Population Research, GPO Box 128, Mohakhali,Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh. Author in the US until August 27 contact T) +1 518 945 3071;Mobile: 443 722 5511.
Half of women treated with osteoporosis drugs may have insufficient vitamin D levels...
Research conducted by Michael F Holick, MD, PhD, of Boston University School of Medicine and colleagues has found that women being treated for osteoporosis have low levels of vitamin D, a nutrient that is necessary for adequate bone mineralization. The study was published in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (http://jcem.endojournals.org/).
Dr Holick and colleagues recruited 1,536 women from 61 study sites who had been taking osteoporosis medications for a minimum of three months. Participants were allowed to have used vitamin D supplements, but were excluded if they had recently decreased or increased the amount taken. All participants received medical examinations during which they were questioned concerning medication and supplement intake, and blood samples were drawn and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (the active vitamin D metabolite) levels measured.
Fifty-two percent of the women were found to have inadequate levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, defined as less than 30 nanograms per milliliter. Eighteen percent had levels even lower, at 20 nanograms per milliliter or below. Sixty-three percent of women who reported an intake of 400 international units or less of supplemental vitamin D had inadequate vitamin D levels compared to 45 percent of those whose intake was 400 international units or greater. The absence of prior discussion with a physician concerning vitamin D's importance to bone health was also associated with lower levels of the vitamin.
The authors write that although the study was conducted during winter when vitamin D levels are usually lower, even with adequate sun exposure during summer and fall the public is still at risk for low levels of the vitamin because its half life is only two weeks. They recommend greater education concerning improving vitamin D status in women with osteoporosis.
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