The effect of adding ready-to-use supplementary food to a general food distribution on child nutritional status and morbidity: a cluster-randomized controlled trial

L. Huybregts, F. Houngbé, C. Salpéteur, R. Brown, D. Roberfroid, M. Ait-Aissa, P. Kolsteren

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    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: Recently, operational organizations active in child nutrition in developing countries have suggested that blanket feeding strategies be adopted to enable the prevention of child wasting. A new range of nutritional supplements is now available, with claims that they can prevent wasting in populations at risk of periodic food shortages. Evidence is lacking as to the effectiveness of such preventive interventions. This study examined the effect of a ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF) on the prevention of wasting in 6- to 36-mo-old children within the framework of a general food distribution program. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a two-arm cluster-randomized controlled pragmatic intervention study in a sample of 1,038 children aged 6 to 36 mo in the city of Abeche, Chad. Both arms were included in a general food distribution program providing staple foods. The intervention group was given a daily 46 g of RUSF for 4 mo. Anthropometric measurements and morbidity were recorded monthly. Adding RUSF to a package of monthly household food rations for households containing a child assigned to the intervention group did not result in a reduction in cumulative incidence of wasting (incidence risk ratio: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.67, 1.11; p = 0.25). However, the intervention group had a modestly higher gain in height-for-age (+0.03 Z-score/mo; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.04; p
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPLoS Medicine
    Volume9
    Issue number9
    Pages (from-to)e1001313
    ISSN1549-1676
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Keywords

    • Nutrition status
    • Morbidity
    • Children
    • Wasting
    • Prevention strategies
    • Food supplementation
    • Food aid
    • Distribution
    • Health impact
    • Anthropometry
    • Measurement
    • Linear growth
    • Hemoglobin
    • Anemia
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Randomized controlled trials
    • Chad
    • Africa-Central

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