Impact of small quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements on infant and young child feeding practices at 18 months of age: results from four randomized controlled trials in Africa.

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Optimal infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices can help ensure nutrient adequacy and support healthy growth and development. Small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements (SQ-LNS) have been proposed to help fill nutrient gaps, but little is known about the impact of provision of SQ-LNS on breastfeeding or complementary feeding practices. In the context of four coordinated randomized controlled nutrient supplementation trials in diverse sites in Africa, we compared IYCF practices at infant age 18 months (after 9-12 months of supplementation) between those receiving and not receiving SQ-LNS. Practices were assessed by caregiver recall. Continued breastfeeding ranged from 74% (Ghana site) to 97% (Burkina Faso site) and did not differ between groups in any site; prevalence of frequent breastfeeding also did not differ. In two sites (Burkina Faso and Malawi), infants receiving SQ-LNS were more likely to meet the World Health Organization recommendations for frequency of feeding (percentage point differences of 12-14%, P < 0.0001 and P = 0.005, respectively; the remaining two sites did not have data for this indicator). Most indicators of infant dietary diversity did not differ between groups in any site, but in the same two sites where frequency of feeding differed, infants receiving SQ-LNS were less likely to have low frequency of consumption of animal-source foods in the previous week (percentage point differences of 9-19% for lowest tertile, P = .02 and P = 0.04, respectively). We conclude that provision of SQ-LNS did not negatively impact self-reported IYCF practices and may have positively impacted frequency of feeding.

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Matern Child Nutr