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Small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements containing different amounts of zinc along with diarrhea and malaria treatment increase iron and vitamin A status and reduce anemia prevalence, but do not affect zinc status in young Burkinabe children: a cluster-randomized trial.



We assessed the effects of providing a package of interventions including small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements (SQ-LNS) containing 0, 5 or 10 mg zinc and illness treatment to Burkinabe children from 9 to 18 months of age, on biomarkers of zinc, iron and vitamin A status at 18 months and compared with a non-intervention cohort (NIC).


Using a two-stage cluster randomized trial design, communities were randomly assigned to the intervention cohort (IC) or NIC, and extended family compounds within the IC were randomly assigned to different treatment groups. IC children (n = 2435) were provided with 20 g SQ-LNS/d containing 0, 5 or 10 mg zinc, 6 mg of iron and 400 μg of vitamin A along with malaria and diarrhea treatment. NIC children (n = 785) did not receive the intervention package. At 9 and 18 months, hemoglobin (Hb), zinc, iron and vitamin A status were assessed in a sub-group (n = 404). Plasma concentrations of zinc (pZC), ferritin (pF), soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) and retinol-binding protein (RBP) were adjusted for inflammation.


At baseline, 35% of children had low adjusted pZC (<65 μg/dL), 93% were anemic (Hb <110 g/L), 25% had low adjusted pF (<12 μg/L), 90% had high adjusted sTfR (>8.3 mg/L) and 47% had low adjusted RBP (<0.94 μmol/L), with no group-wise differences. Compared with the NIC, at 18 months IC children had significantly lower anemia prevalence (74 vs. 92%, p = 0.001) and lower iron deficiency prevalence (13% vs. 32% low adjusted pF and 41% vs. 71% high adjusted sTfR, p < 0.001), but no difference in pZC. Mean adjusted RBP was greater at 18 months in IC vs. NIC (0.94 μmol/L vs. 0.86 μmol/L, p = 0.015), but the prevalence of low RBP remained high in both cohorts. Within the IC, different amounts of zinc had no effect on the prevalence of low pZC or indicators of vitamin A deficiency, whereas children who received SQ-LNS with 10 mg zinc had a significantly lower mean pF at 18 months compared to children who received SQ-LNS with 5 mg zinc (p = 0.034).


SQ-LNS regardless of zinc amount and source provided along with illness treatment improved indicators of iron and vitamin A status, but not pZC.

Trial registration

NCT00944281 (July 21, 2009).

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