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Lipid-based nutrient supplements and linear growth in children under 2 years: a review

  • Tonderayi M. Matsungo (a1), Herculina S. Kruger (a1), Cornelius M. Smuts (a1) and Mieke Faber (a2)

The prevalence of stunting remains high in low- and middle-income countries despite adoption of comprehensive nutrition interventions, particularly in low-income countries. In the present paper, we review current evidence on the acceptability and efficacy of small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements (SQ-LNS) on preventing stunting in children under 2 years, discuss the factors that affect their efficacy, highlight the implications of the current findings at pragmatic level and identify research priorities. Although the present paper is not a generic systematic review, we used a systematic approach to select relevant literature. The review showed that there is growing interest in the potential benefits of using SQ-LNS to prevent growth faltering. Acceptability studies showed that SQ-LNS are generally well accepted. However, results on the efficacy of SQ-LNS on improving linear growth or preventing growth faltering in infants and young children are still inconclusive. Factors that may affect efficacy include the duration of the trial, composition and dosage of SQ-LNS given, and baseline demographics and nutritional status of research participants. Future research should focus on controlled and long-term follow-up trials to obtain more conclusive results. In the long term, there will be need for studies to investigate how provision of SQ-LNS can be integrated with existing strategies to prevent stunting in low- and middle-income settings.

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Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: T. M. Matsungo, fax +27 18 299 2464, email
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