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Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2012;70:11-21. doi: 10.1159/000337388. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Micronutrients in the treatment of stunting and moderate malnutrition.

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Instituto de Investigación Nutricional, Lima, Perú


Linear growth retardation or stunting may occur with or without low weight-for-age, but in both cases stunted or moderately malnourished children are deficient in micronutrients. Pregnancy and the first 2 years are critical periods. Dietary deficiency of zinc, iron, calcium, and vitamin A are especially common and often occur together. Zinc is essential for adequate growth, and supplements have been shown to increase intrauterine femur length and to prevent stunting. However, in general, supplements which provide a mixture of micronutrients have been more successful in preventing stunting and are simpler to take and distribute. Multiple micronutrients together with energy and macronutrients are also needed for the management of moderate malnutrition. Multiple micronutrients may be delivered as medicinal-like supplements, but may also be combined with food, for instance in milk drinks, in fortified dried cereal mixes used to supplement complementary foods or in lipid nutrition supplements. The latter also provide essential fats necessary for growth. Micronutrient powders for home fortification are effective in preventing anemia, but present combinations do not prevent stunting. Improving the diets of infant and young children is also possible, and increased intake of animal source foods can improve growth.

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