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Nutrition. 2003 Feb;19(2):174-8.

Growth pattern of infants fed with a mixture of extruded malted maize and cowpea.

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  • 1Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ibadan, Nigeria.



Breast milk alone is insufficient to support normal growth during the second half of infancy, so I investigated supplementary feeding for infants' successful transition to solid food.


The nutrition status of 30 infants from a low socioeconomic background weaned onto an extruded formulated complementary diet from maize and cowpea (L(1)A(1)) were compared with 30 infants with a similar socioeconomic background (L(2)N, control group) and 30 infants from an above-average socioeconomic background (HN, reference group) without the supplementary diet. Infants within the control and reference groups were weaned onto different foods of the mothers' choice. The formulated diet was analyzed for nutrient composition.


The results showed similarity in the estimated annual family income of the L(1)A(1) and L(2)N groups, which ranged from N 25 000 to 74 000 (US $208.30 to 616.70), whereas the estimated family income for the HN group was above N 225 000 (US $1875.00) annually. The formulated blend contained 17.3% protein, 5.0% fat, and 2106 kJ of energy. Mean weight at birth and 4 mo before the feeding intervention in HN infants was statistically (P < 0.05) higher than in L(1)A(1) and L(2)N infants. At the end of the study, L(1)A(1) and HN infants had a mean length within -1 standard deviation of the standard length for age. The mean length of L(2)N infants was within -3 standard deviations of the standard length for age. The effectiveness of the formulated diet was expressed in terms of similarity in anthropometric measurements of L(1)A(1)) and HN infants.


Based on similarities in socioeconomic background and weight at birth and 4 mo in the L(1)A(1) and L(2)N infants, the better nutrition status of the L(1)A(1) is attributed to the formulated complementary diet. The contribution of this mixture to total nutrient intake seemed substantial enough to meet the infants' nutritional requirements. The use of a cheaply available plant protein will go a long way in reducing protein-energy malnutrition among children in developing countries. However, because of the low purchasing power of the low-income family, the costs of this product should be studied.

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