(HealthDay News) – For infants aged 7–120 days with probable serious bacterial infection, zinc given as an adjunct to standard antibiotic treatment is associated with less treatment failure, according to a study published online May 31 in The Lancet.

Shinjini Bhatnagar, PhD, from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the effect of zinc as an adjunct to antibiotics in infants with probable serious bacterial infection. Infants, aged 7–120 days, from three hospitals in New Delhi, between July 2005 and December 2008, were randomly allocated to receive 10mg zinc (352 infants) or placebo (348 infants) every day, in addition to standard antibiotic treatment.

The researchers found that 332 infants given zinc and 323 given placebo could be assessed for the primary outcome of treatment failure. Compared with the placebo group, in the zinc group there were significantly fewer treatment failures (10% vs. 17%; relative risk reduction, 40%; P=0.0113). The investigators noted that one treatment failure could be prevented by treatment of 15 infants with zinc. Ten of the infants receiving zinc and 17 receiving placebo died (relative risk, 0.57; P=0.15).

“Zinc could be given as adjunct treatment to reduce the risk of treatment failure in infants aged 7–120 days with probable serious bacterial infection,” the authors write.

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