Growth and micronutrient status in children receiving a fortified complementary food
Linear growth retardation and anemia are the most prevalent nutritional problems in the world; effective interventions are urgently needed. We evaluated Ecuador's National Food Nutrition Program (PANN 2000) that included a micronutrient fortified complementary food (FCF), Mi Papilla, in poor periurban and rural communities of Ecuador. The program is preventive and targeted to all infants and young children living in poor communities and receiving government health services. We compared dietary intake, micronutrient status, and growth over 11 mo in a cohort of children from the catchment areas of the PANN 2000 with same-age control children in nearby communities eligible to enter the program 1 y later. PANN 2000 children enrolled in the program when they were age 9-14 mo and were age 20-25 mo at the final survey. They consumed significantly more energy, protein, fat, iron, zinc, vitamin A, and calcium than control children because of their FCF consumption. Anemia, 76% in both groups at baseline, fell to 27% in PANN 2000 children but only to 44% in control children (P <0.001). The odds of being anemic were 58% lower for PANN 2000 children (P 0.003). The effects on linear growth and weight were limited to children who were older when the program began (12-14 mo) and were significant for weight (interaction with age, 0.38 kg; P = 0.029) and positive but not significant for length 0.66 cm; P 0.08). An FCF, including ferrous sulfate, delivered through public health services, is highly effective in improving weight and hemoglobin and reducing anemia.