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Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jul;50(1):1-8.

Nutritional supplementation: effects on child stunting because of diarrhea.

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  • 1Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council, Washington, DC.


Research has shown that the positive effect of nutritional supplementation on child growth in malnourished populations is small relative to the large negative effect of diarrheal disease. To test the hypothesis that the effects of supplementation and diarrhea are synergistic in that supplementation modifies the negative effect of diarrhea on linear growth, length and diarrheal morbidity were compared at 36 mo of age for two cohorts of Colombian children: supplemented from birth and unsupplemented. Among unsupplemented children diarrhea was negatively associated with length. Among supplemented children diarrhea had no effect on length and differed from that of unsupplemented children. Thus, supplementation completely offset the negative effect of diarrheal disease on length. Targeting supplementation programs to the critical period of high diarrheal prevalence among infants and young children should increase the effectiveness of such programs in preventing growth retardation associated with diarrhea.

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