Small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements (SQ-LNS) are considered promising home-fortificants to prevent malnutrition in children aged 6-23 months; but evidence so far is mixed. This randomized controlled trial investigated the effect of two soy-based SQ-LNS on linear growth, iron and essential fatty acid status, and psycho-motor development in South African infants.
Six-month old infants (n=750) were randomly allocated to 3 groups: (1) SQ-LNS with essential fatty acids (EFAs), (2) SQ-LNS with EFAs and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), phytase and lysine, and (3) a delayed supplementation control group from age 6 to 12 months. At baseline, 8, 10 and 12 months, length-for-age (primary endpoint), weight-for-length and weight-for-age z-scores, and infant psycho-motor development were assessed. Haemoglobin (Hb), serum ferritin (SF) and transferrin receptor (sTfR) were measured at baseline and end.
At baseline, stunting, wasting, underweight and overweight was prevalent in 29.3%, 1.7%, 1.3% and 10.1% of infants respectively. Prevalence of anaemia (Hb < 11g/L), iron deficiency (SF < 12 µg/L) and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA; based on SF) was 36.4%, 16.1% and 9.3% respectively. The data of the efficacy trial are currently being analysed and results will be presented at the conference.
At age 6 months these South African children already showed significant levels of stunting, anaemia and iron deficiency confirming the need for nutrition interventions. Findings of the efficacy trial will help to further understand the potential of SQ-LNS in improving nutrition in infants and young children from low- and middle-income countries.