♦ Gulani A, Sachev HS. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;6:CD006639.

There is no convincing evidence that zinc supplements prevent otitis media in healthy children under age 5, according to a review of 10 randomized, placebo-controlled trials with a total of 6,820 participants, mostly in developing countries.

Otitis media can lead to chronic conditions such as suppurative otitis media. An estimated 164 million people worldwide, most in low-income countries, suffer hearing loss due to chronic suppurative otitis media.

Zinc deficiency is common among children in low-income countries. Supplements of the micronutrient have been used successfully to prevent and treat pneumonia, other respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases. Therefore, supplements may be effective against otitis media.

The authors searched three electronic databases from 1950 through March 2014 for trials of zinc salt supplements of any dose given at least once a week for at least one month vs. placebo. Otitis media could...

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