Submitted to: Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/23/2006
Publication Date: 10/1/2006
Citation: Kuusipalo, H., Maleta, K., Briend, A., Manary, M., Ashorn, P. 2006. Growth and change in blood haemoglobin concentration among underweight Malawian infants receiving fortified spreads for 12 weeks: A preliminary trial. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 43(4):525-532. Interpretive Summary: Fortified spreads (FSs) have proven effective in the rehabilitation of severely malnourished children. We examined acceptability, growth and change in blood haemoglobin (Hb) concentration among moderately underweight ambulatory infants given FS. Children aged 6-9 months in a rural Malawian community were given one of 3 different complementary foods daily for 12 weeks. The foods were a traditional corn/bean porridge, a micronutrient rich peanut butter supplement, and a peanut butter/milk paste containing all needed nutrients. The children took all of these foods avidly, the paste was not too thick for these young children. The children receiving the peanut butter/milk paste showed better growth and hemoglobin after 3 months. Since the numbers of children were small, less than 100 total, these encouraging results are preliminary and need to be explored in a larger trial.
Technical Abstract: Fortified spreads (FSs) have proven effective in the rehabilitation of severely malnourished children. We examined acceptability, growth and change in blood haemoglobin (Hb) concentration among moderately underweight ambulatory infants given FS. This was a randomised, controlled, parallel-group, investigator-blind clinical trial in rural Malawi. Six- to 17-month-old underweight infants (weight for age < -2), whose weight was greater than 5.5 kg and weight-for-height z score greater than -3 received for 12 weeks at home 1 of 8 food supplementation schemes: nothing, 5, 25, 50, or 75 g/day milk-based FS or 25, 50, or 75 g/day soy-based FS. Outcome measures included change in weight, length, and blood Hb concentration. A total of 126 infants started and 125 completed the intervention. All infants accepted the spread well, and no intolerance was recorded. Average weight and length gains were higher among infants receiving daily 25 to 75 g FS than among those receiving only 0 to 5 g FS. Mean Hb concentration remained unchanged among unsupplemented controls but increased by 10 to 17 g/L among infants receiving any FS. All average gains were largest among infants receiving 50 g of FS daily: mean difference (95% confidence interval) in the 12-week gain between infants in 50 g milk-based FS group and the unsupplemented group was 290 g (range, -130 to 700 g), 0.9 cm (range, -0.3 to 2.2 cm), and 17 g/L (range, 0 to 34 g/L) for weight, length, and blood Hb concentration, respectively. In soy- vs milk-based FS groups, average outcomes were comparable. Supplementation with 25 to 75 g/day of highly fortified spread is feasible and may promote growth and alleviate anaemia among moderately malnourished infants. Further trials should test this hypothesis.