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Publication | 9 March 2021

Impact of nutritional interventions among lactating mothers on the growth of their infants in the first 6 months of life: a randomized controlled trial in Delhi, India

Background

In lower-middle-income settings, growth faltering in the first 6 mo of life occurs despite exclusive breastfeeding.

Objective

The aim was to test the efficacy of an approach to improve the dietary adequacy of mothers during lactation and thus improve the growth of their infants.

Methods

Eligible mother–infant dyads (infants ≤7 d of age) were randomly assigned to either intervention or control groups. Mothers in the intervention group received snacks that were to be consumed daily, which provided 600 kcal of energy—with 25–30% of energy derived from fats (150–180 kcal) and 13% of energy from protein (80 kcal). Micronutrients were supplemented as daily tablets. We provided counseling on breastfeeding and infant-care practices to mothers in both groups. The primary outcome was attained infant length-for-age z scores (LAZ) at 6 mo of age. Secondary outcomes included exclusive breastfeeding proportion reported by the mother, maternal BMI and midupper arm circumference (MUAC), hemoglobin concentrations in mothers and infants, and the proportion of anemic infants at 6 mo of age.

Results

We enrolled 816 mother–infant dyads. The intervention did not achieve a significant effect on LAZ at 6 mo (adjusted mean difference: 0.09; 95% CI: −0.03, 0.20). Exclusive breastfeeding at 5 mo was higher (45.1% vs. 34.5%; RR: 1.31; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.64) in the intervention group compared with the controls. There were no significant effects on mean hemoglobin concentration or the proportion of anemic infants at 6 mo of age compared with the control group. We noted significant effects on maternal nutritional status (BMI, MUAC, hemoglobin concentration, and proportion anemic).

Conclusions

Postnatal supplementation of 600 kcal energy, 20 g protein, and multiple micronutrients daily to lactating mothers did not affect infant LAZ at age 6 mo. Such supplementation may improve maternal nutritional status.

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