Submitted to: Maternal and Child Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2008
Publication Date: 1/1/2008
Citation: Flax, V.L., Ashorn, U., Phuka, J., Maleta, K., Manary, M.J., Ashorn, P. 2008. Feeding patterns of underweight children in rural Malawi given supplementary fortified spread at home. Maternal and Child Nutrition. 4(1):65-73. Interpretive Summary: While peanut-butter based ready-to-use foods are very efficacous in clinical trials, little is known about how caretakers actually use these foods with infants. This study carefully observed a small number of families in Malawi to determine how the food was used in rural Africa. The food was first used mainly alone as a between-meal snack, and then became integrated into the typical complementary feeding pattern by being mixed with porridge. Introduction of the food reduced the number of plain porridge meals, but did not decrease the total number of meals or breastfeeds per day and did not change the daily mean time caregivers spent on feeding. This information suggests that the ready-to-use food does not disrupt normal feeding, but adds to the infants dietary intake.
Technical Abstract: Fortified spread (FS), containing dry food particles embedded in edible fat, offers a convenient means for nutrition rehabilitation. To describe how caregivers feed FS to their undernourished children at home, and how FS use affects other feeding patterns, we conducted a longitudinal observational study in rural Malawi. Sixteen 6- to 17-month-old underweight children (weight-for-age z-score < -2.0; -3.0 < weight-for-height z-score < 0) received FS for 12 weeks. Twelve-hour observations were conducted before supplementation and during weeks 1, 4, 8, and 12 of FS use. FS was fed to children about two times per day; each serving was 15-20 g. The spread was first used mainly alone as a between-meal snack, and then became integrated into the typical complementary feeding pattern by being mixed with porridge. Introduction of FS reduced the number of plain porridge meals, but did not decrease the total number of meals or breastfeeds per day and did not change the daily mean time caregivers spent on feeding. Children accepted the FS well, but more FS was wasted when it was offered mixed with porridge than when given alone (23.6% vs. 1.2%, 95% CI for the difference 13.2% to 31.6%). FS supplementation is feasible for community-based nutrition interventions in Malawi because it easily becomes part of the feeding routine, does not replace other foods and does not take extra caregiver time. To limit wastage, caregivers should be advised to serve FS plain or to mix it with only a small quantity of porridge.