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Am J Clin Nutr. 1981 Apr;34(Suppl 4):807-13.

Nutritional supplementation, maternal education, and cognitive development of infants at risk of malnutrition.


Infants born to families at risk of malnutrition were studied prospectively from the beginning of the 3rd trimester of the mother's pregnancy until the child reached 3 yr of age to ascertain the effects of nutritional supplementation and/or a maternal education program on their cognitive development. Four hundred thirty-three families were assigned randomly to six groups: group A served as a control; group B received the supplement from the age of 6 months to 3 yr; group C received the supplement during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and the first 6 months of the child's life; and group D received the supplement throughout the entire study period. In addition, group A1 was enrolled in a maternal education program but received no nutritional supplement and group B1 received both treatments. The Griffiths test of infant development was administered at 4, 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months of age, and the Corman-Escalona Einstein scale was administered at each age up to 18 months. Children who received food supplementation performed better than those who did not, especially on subtests that were primarily motoric. The effect of food supplementation on behavior appeared to be contemporaneous. In addition, the treatment effects were more pronounced for girls than for boys in this sample. Although these interventions reduced the gap in cognitive performance between lower and upper socioeconomic classes, a disparity nevertheless remained by the end of the study.

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