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A Single-Centre, Randomized, Single-Blind, Parallel Group Clinical Trial in Rural Malawi, Testing the Growth Promoting Effect of Long-Term Complementary Feeding of Infants with a High-Energy, Micronutrient Fortified Spread

Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA) Project | USAID
Year Published:
Resource Type:
Evaluations and Research

The low nutrient and energy content of complementary foods in low-income countries has been associated with growth faltering, increased morbidity, and delayed motor milestone acquisition. Complementation of the diet in infancy and early childhood with lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS) that have high nutrient and energy density has been suggested as a way to improve growth and reduce morbidity. FANTA conducted a trial in rural Malawi to compare the incidence and prevalence of very severe linear growth failure and symptoms of common childhood illnesses among infants receiving dietary supplementation with milk-LNS, soy-LNS, a corn-soy blend (CSB), or nothing.

Healthy infants were randomized into one of four intervention schemes and tracked for 12 months from the age of 6 to 18 months. The results of the trial provide support to a hypothesis that, in rural Malawi, 12 months of complementary feeding of infants with milk-LNS, but not soy-LNS or CSB, reduces the incidence of very severe stunting between 6 and 18 months of age. The trial did not, however, provide support to a hypothesis that any of the tested supplements would reduce the longitudinal prevalence of common illness symptoms among infants 6–18 months old.