Aim: To determine the efficacy of prophylactic administration of zinc sulphate in reducing the occurrence of the common cold in children, and to evaluate the efficacy of zinc sulphate in reducing the duration and severity of cold symptoms. Methods: A total of 200 healthy children were randomly assigned to receive oral zinc sulphate (zinc group, n=100) or placebo (placebo group, n=100). Zinc sulphate (15 mg of zinc) or placebo syrup were administered for prophylaxis once daily during a 7-mo study period. The dose was increased to two times per day (30 mg of zinc) at the onset of cold, until symptoms resolved. Results: The mean number of colds in the zinc group was significantly less than in the placebo group (1.2 vs 1.7 colds per child; p=0.003). The mean cold-related school absence was 0.9 d per child in the zinc group versus 1.3 d in the placebo group (p=0.04). Compared to the placebo group, the zinc group had shorter mean duration of cold symptoms and decreased total severity scores for cold symptoms (p<0.0001). Adverse effects were mild and similar in both groups.
Conclusion: Zinc sulphate appears to be an easily administered, safe and well-tolerated alternative for the prevention and treatment of the common cold in children.