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J Nutr. 2005 Mar;135(3):653S-659S.

Efficacy of multiple micronutrient supplementation for improving anemia, micronutrient status, and growth in South African infants.

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  • 1Nutritional Intervention Research Unit, MRC, Parow, South Africa.


Growth faltering, anemia, and multiple micronutrient deficiency are common during infancy in developing countries. This South African trial was part of a multicenter study aimed at testing the efficacy of multiple micronutrient supplementation on growth, anemia, micronutrient status, and morbidity during infancy across 4 countries. A total of 265 infants aged 6-12 mo were individually randomized to 1 of 4 intervention groups: a daily multiple micronutrient supplement (DMM), a daily placebo supplement (P); a multiple micronutrient supplement 1 d of the week and placebo supplement on the other days of the week (WMM), and a daily iron supplement (DI). For 6 mo, the blinded supplements were provided to mothers at monthly health clinic sessions, and consumption was verified during weekly household visits by community health workers, when morbidity was also checked. Weight and height of the infants were measured monthly, and blood samples were taken at the beginning and at the end for assessing the infants micronutrient status. There were no significant differences in nutritional status of the groups at baseline with 40% of infants with anemia (hemoglobin < 110 g/L), 16% vitamin A deficiency (plasma retinol < 0.7 micromol/L), 47% zinc deficiency (plasma zinc < 10.7 micromol/L), 2% underweight, and 11% stunting. There was no difference in growth or morbidity between the micronutrient supplemented groups and the P group during the 6-mo study. The DMM was the most effective intervention tested, not only for improving anemia but also for improving iron, zinc, riboflavin, and tocopherol status.

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