Dietary supplements can reduce child mortality

Dietary supplements can reduce child mortality

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Nutritional supplements with vitamins and minerals reduce child mortality

More than half of all child deaths worldwide are due to avoidable causes, such as the adverse effects of malnutrition. A new study has found that child mortality drops significantly when children receive supplements that are rich in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.

The study, led by researchers from the University of California, found that dietary supplements can reduce mortality in children aged six to 24 months in low- and middle-income countries by up to 27 percent. The study results were published in the journal "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition".

Add to the child's daily diet

As a university report says, dietary supplements typically consist of a mixture of legumes - peanut, lentil, or chickpea paste - plus milk powder, oil, and a full supplement of the vitamins and minerals children need.

"Imagine a tiny pack of fortified peanut butter that contains only 100 calories," said Christine Stewart, associate professor in the nutrition department and interim director of the Institute for Global Nutrition. "It is enough to spread on a piece of bread, or it can be mixed with other foods."

The parcels should be added to the child's daily diet when it changes from breastfeeding to complementary foods or foods that are consumed in the family.

Supplements can not only improve growth

Previous studies have looked at how toddler supplements improve growth. However, the current study is the first to assess the impact of dietary supplements on child mortality. "The results show that dietary supplements can not only prevent growth disorders, waste and malnutrition," said Stewart.

In order to compare the mortality risk in children who received dietary supplements with those who did not receive them, the researchers identified 18 studies that were carried out in eleven countries.

Data from 13 studies with 34,051 children were used for the primary analysis. The studies have been conducted in several countries in different geographical regions and are likely to be transferable to other low and middle income countries.

Tackle malnutrition

"Based on this data, we estimate that for every 227 children who receive the supplement for at least six months, one child's death can be prevented," said Stewart. “Malnutrition is one of the underlying causes of child mortality. This study confirms this once again. "

The most common causes of death are diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory infections. "These diseases are rarely fatal in places like the United States because the children are well fed," said Stewart.

Reduce deaths

Co-author Kathryn Dewey from the Institute for Global Nutrition at the University of California developed the lipid-based dietary supplements together with other colleagues. "It is encouraging to see that this intervention can reduce deaths after the age of six months, as there are few effective strategies beyond that age," said the scientist. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • University of California: Nutritional supplements significantly reduce child deaths, (accessed: November 10, 2019), University of California
  • American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Lipid-based nutrient supplements and all-cause mortality in children 6-24 months of age: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, (accessed: November 10, 2019), American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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