DSM supports novel nutrient supplement study that shows promising findings for child growth and development
The multi-sector research partnership, which saw DSM work in conjunction with the North West University of South Africa, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and Unilever, aimed to better understand the potential benefits of such nutritional interventions. A total of 750 children, aged between six and 12 months, from the Jouberton community in South Africa took part in the randomized controlled trial. One of two different, small quantity, complementary food supplements providing a rich source of essential lipids, protein, vitamins and minerals was added to their daily diet over six-month period.
The results of the study showed that children who took the supplements had a better iron status at 12 months of age, in comparison to the control group. Those taking the supplement containing, amongst others, long-chain omega-3 and -6 fatty acids also showed positive advancements in a number of important areas, such as linear growth at age 8 and 10 months and psychomotor development at 12 months of age, a key factor in later academic performance. Additionally, the children had enhanced omega-3 fatty acid status, which is associated with healthy eye and brain development.
“After the age of six months, children need nutritious food to complement continued breastfeeding. However, older infants living in poorer communities often lack essential nutrients in their diet, as their complementary foods are made of staples like maize meal; contributing to their compromised linear growth and psychomotor development,” explains Professor Marius Smuts, who led the study.
“The first 1,000 days from conception to a child’s second birthday is marked by rapid body and brain development and requires proper nutrition in order to achieve their full potential; not only in terms of quality of life, but also schooling and earning potential. This is why the positive results of this study are so encouraging. It will help build our understanding of how to apply nutrition interventions effectively during this critical period in their lives,” adds Anthony Hehir, Director, Nutrition Improvement at DSM.
“This project is innovation at its best in terms of multi-sector partnership, research methodology and the approach used to address nutrient gaps among populations most at risk of stunting. We are grateful to our partners and especially the proud people of Jouberton for their commitment and groundbreaking work,” says Dominic Schofield from the Global Alliance for Improve Nutrition (GAIN).
The two lipid-based complementary supplements developed by DSM and Unilever have been designed to be easily added to homemade foods to encourage acceptance and intake and received a positive response from caregivers and infants taking part in the study.
The Tswaka Nutrition Intervention study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol 108: ‘Testing of Two Types of Lipid-based Nutrient Supplements in South African Older Infants.’ Authors: Cornelius M Smuts, Tonderayi M Matsung, Linda Malan, Herculina S Kruger, Marinel Rothman, Jane D Kvalsvig, Namukolo Covic, Karen Joosten, Saskia JM Osendarp, Maaike J Bruins, Leon GJ Frenken, Carl J Lombard and Mieke Faber.