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ObjectiveTo test whether zinc supplementation during pregnancy would reduce infant morbidity rates.Study designA double-blind, randomized controlled trial of prenatal zinc supplementation was conducted from 1995 to 1997 in a periurban slum of Lima, Peru. Participants were randomly assigned to receive daily supplementation with zinc (15 mg zinc + 60 mg iron + 250 microg folic acid) or placebo (60 iron + 250 microg folic acid) from 10 to 24 weeks gestation until 1 month postpartum. Anthropometry was measured monthly from birth through age 12 months, and morbidity and dietary intake were measured weekly from 6 to 12 months (n = 421).ResultsThe average percentage of observation days with diarrhea among infants prenatally treated with zinc (5.8%) was reduced compared with infants in the control group (7.7%) (P = .01). Prenatal zinc supplementation reduced the likelihood of an infant experiencing diarrheal episodes of acute diarrhea lasting longer than 7 days (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.43, 0.99, P = .04) and mucus in the stool (OR 0.65 95% CI 0.46, 0.92, P = .01) adjusting for infant age, breastfeeding, season, and hygiene and sanitation covariates. No treatment effects on respiratory illnesses, fever, or skin conditions were detected.ConclusionsImproving prenatal zinc nutrition protected against diarrheal morbidity in infant offspring through 12 months of age.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of pediatrics

Publication Date





960 - 964.e2


Institute of Public Health, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, St. Louis, MO.


Humans, Diarrhea, Infantile, Prenatal Care, Morbidity, Multivariate Analysis, Double-Blind Method, Seasons, Breast Feeding, Principal Component Analysis, Socioeconomic Factors, Dietary Supplements, Infant, Newborn, Peru, Female