The study finds a 27 percent reduction in child mortality in low-income and middle-income countries
More than half of child deaths worldwide stem from preventable causes, such as negative effects from malnutrition. A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that infant mortality declines significantly when children are given supplements that are rich in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. It found that supplementation can reduce mortality among children between 6 and 24 months by as much as 27 percent in low- and middle-income countries. The researchers published their findings on November 7, 2019 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Nutritional supplements usually consist of a mixture of a legume – peanut, lentil or chickpea paste – plus milk powder, oil and a complete complement of the vitamins and minerals that children need.
"Think of a small package of fortified peanut butter that has only 100 calories," says Christine Stewart, associate professor in the department of nutrition and interim director of the Institute for Global Nutrition. "It is enough to spread on a single piece of bread, or it can be mixed with other foods." The packages are designed to be added to the child's diet daily as they transition from breastfeeding to supplemental foods or family foods.
Previous studies have investigated how supplements given to young children improve growth, but this is the first to evaluate the effects of supplements on children's deaths.
To assess the mortality risk among children who received the supplement compared to those who did not, the researchers identified 18 studies conducted in 11 countries. Among them, their primary analysis used data from 13 trials involving 34,051 children. The trials were conducted in several countries in different geographical regions and are likely to be generalizable to other low and middle income countries.
"From these estimates, we estimate that for every 227 children who receive the supplement for at least six months, the death of a child can be prevented," Stewart said. “Malnutrition is an underlying cause of childhood mortality. This study really repeats it. “The most common causes of death are diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory infection. "These diseases are rarely fatal in places like the United States because the children are well-nourished," Stewart said.
Kathryn Dewey, an excellent professor emerita in the Department of Nutrition and one of the co-authors of the study, developed the use of lipid-based nutrients in small quantities with other colleagues. "It is encouraging to see that this intervention can reduce deaths after 6 months, as there are few effective strategies beyond that age," she said.
Reference: "Lipid-based Nutritional Supplements and Mortality with All Causes in Children Aged 6-24 Months: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials" by Christine P. Stewart, K. Ryan Wessells, Charles D. Arnold, Lieven Huybregts, Per Ashorn, Elodie Becquey, Jean H Humphrey, and Kathryn G Dewey, November 7, 2019, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition .
DOI: 10.1093 / ajcn / nqz262
Additional authors on the magazine is Charles D. Arnold and K. Ryan Wessells, Institute of Global Nutrition at UC Davis (former program for international and community industry); Per Ashorn, University of Tampere, Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere, Finland; Jean H. Humphrey, Department for International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland; and Elodie Becquey and Lieven Huybregts, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC
A The work is supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and funding from the Advisory Group for the International Agricultural Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, led by the International Food Policy Research Institute.