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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(1), 171-177;

Zinc in Well Water and Infant Mortality in Bangladesh: A Report from Gonoshasthaya Kendra

Division of Preventive Medicine, University of Alberta, 5-30 University Terrace, 8303-112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 1K4, Canada
National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, UK
Gonoshasthaya Kendra, Savar, Dhaka 1344, Bangladesh
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 December 2011 / Revised: 5 January 2012 / Accepted: 6 January 2012 / Published: 10 January 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Maternal and Child Health)
Full-Text   |   PDF [235 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


Zinc supplementation reduces the duration, severity and recurrence of diarrhoea in young children. This study examines whether zinc, found naturally in drinking water, reduced infant deaths from diarrhoea in rural Bangladesh. Information was compiled for births over two calendar years with follow-up for deaths within one year of birth. The study included 29,744 live births and 934 deaths in some 600 villages under the care of Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK), grouped into 15 health centre regions within 12 upazillas. Individual matching of death to birth data was not possible, but information on exposures through well water and on potential confounders was available for each upazilla. Average concentration of zinc in well water, reported by the British Geological Survey, was grouped into high (>0.07 mg/L), moderate (0.020–0.070 mg/L) and low (< 0.020 mg/L) concentrations. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated for zinc by age and cause of death. Zinc concentration was unrelated to all-cause mortality but a decrease in deaths from diarrhoea (N = 50) was seen in areas with high zinc (OR = 0.30; 95% CI 0.13–0.69). No relation to diarrhoeal deaths was found with other well contaminants (arsenic, manganese) having accounted for zinc. Upazillas with a high proportion of women without education had higher rates of death from diarrhea, but the decrease in risk with high zinc remained (OR adjusted = 0.41; 95% CI 0.20–0.84). It is concluded that exposure to zinc through drinking water may reduce risk of diarrhoeal deaths. View Full-Text
Keywords: zinc; drinking water; infant mortality; diarrhoea; Bangladesh zinc; drinking water; infant mortality; diarrhoea; Bangladesh
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Cherry, N.; McDonald, C.; Chowdhury, Z. Zinc in Well Water and Infant Mortality in Bangladesh: A Report from Gonoshasthaya Kendra. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 171-177.

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