TitleAn Integrated Child Nutrition Intervention Improved Growth of Younger, More Malnourished Children in Northern Viet Nam
AuthorsSchroeder D. G., Pachon H., Dearden K. A., Kwon C. B., Ha T. T., Lang T. T., Marsh D. R.
PublicationFood Nutr Bull. 2002 Dec; 23(4 Suppl):53-61.
AbstractIntegrated nutrition programs are widely used to prevent and/or reverse childhood malnutrition, but rarely rigorously evaluated. The impact of such a program on the physical growth of young rural Vietnamese children was measured. We randomized six communes to receive an integrated nutrition program implemented by Save the Children. We matched six communes to serve as controls. Our sample consisted of 238 children (n = 119 per group) who were 5 to 25 months old on entry. Between December 1999 and December 2000, we measured weight and height monthly for seven months and again at month 12. Principle outcomes were weight-for-age Z score (WAZ), height-for-age Z score (HAZ), and weight-for-height Z score (WHZ), and the changes among these measures. As expected, anthropometric indicators relative to international references worsened as the children aged. Overall, children in the intervention communes who were exposed to the integrated nutrition program did not show statistically significant better growth than comparison children. Intervention children who were younger (15 months or less) and more malnourished (less than-2 Z) at baseline, however, deteriorated significantly less than their comparable counterparts. Between baseline and month four, for example, intervention children who were malnourished and less than 15 months old at entry lost on average 0.05 WAZ while similar comparison children lost 0.25 WAZ (p = .02). Lack of overall impact on growth may be due to a lower than expected prevalence of malnutrition at baseline and/or deworming of comparison children. Targeting nutrition interventions at very young children will have the maximum impact on growth.