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Effect of preventive supplementation with ready-to-use therapeutic food on the nutritional status, mortality, and morbidity of children aged 6 to 60 months in Niger: a cluster randomized trialCONTEXT: Ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) are an important component of effective outpatient treatment of severe wasting. However, their effectiveness in the population-based prevention of moderate and severe wasting has not been evaluated. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of a 3-month distribution of RUTF on the nutritional status, mortality, and morbidity of children aged 6 to 60 months in Niger. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A cluster randomized trial of 12 villages in Maradi, Niger. Six villages were randomized to intervention and 6 to no intervention. All children in the study villages aged 6 to 60 months were eligible for recruitment. INTERVENTION: Children with weight-for-height 80% or more of the National Center for Health Statistics reference median in the 6 intervention villages received a monthly distribution of 1 packet per day of RUTF (92 g [500 kcal/d]) from August to October 2006. Children in the 6 nonintervention villages received no preventive supplementation. Active surveillance for conditions requiring medical or nutritional treatment was conducted monthly in all 12 study villages from August 2006 to March 2007. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes in weight-for-height z score (WHZ) according to the World Health Organization Child Growth Standards and incidence of wasting (WHZ <-2) over 8 months of follow-up. RESULTS: The number of children with height and weight measurements in August, October, December, and February was 3166, 3110, 2936, and 3026, respectively. The WHZ difference between the intervention and nonintervention groups was -0.10 z (95% confidence interval [CI], -0.23 to 0.03) at baseline and 0.12 z (95% CI, 0.02 to 0.21) after 8 months of follow-up. The adjusted effect of the intervention on WHZ from baseline to the end of follow-up was thus 0.22 z (95% CI, 0.13 to 0.30). The absolute rate of wasting and severe wasting, respectively, was 0.17 events per child-year (140 events/841 child-years) and 0.03 events per child-year (29 events/943 child-years) in the intervention villages, compared with 0.26 events per child-year (233 events/895 child-years) and 0.07 events per child-year (71 events/1029 child-years) in the nonintervention villages. The intervention thus resulted in a 36% (95% CI, 17% to 50%; P < .001) reduction in the incidence of wasting and a 58% (95% CI, 43% to 68%; P < .001) reduction in the incidence of severe wasting. There was no reduction in mortality, with a mortality rate of 0.007 deaths per child-year (7 deaths/986 child-years) in the intervention villages and 0.016 deaths per child-year (18 deaths/1099 child-years) in the nonintervention villages (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.25 to 1.05). CONCLUSION: Short-term supplementation of nonmalnourished children with RUTF reduced the decline in WHZ and the incidence of wasting and severe wasting over 8 months. TRIAL REGISTRATION: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00682708.
Mortality and Malnutrition Among Populations Living in South Darfur, Sudan: Results of 3 Surveys, September 2004.CONTEXT: Mass violence against civilians in the west of Sudan has resulted in the displacement of more than 1.5 million people (25% of the population of the Darfur region). Most of these people are camped in 142 settlements. There has been increasing international concern about the health status of the displaced population. OBJECTIVE: To perform rapid epidemiological assessments of mortality and nutritional status at 3 sites in South Darfur for relief efforts. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: In August and September 2004, mortality surveys were conducted among 137,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 3 sites in South Darfur (Kass [n = 900 households], Kalma [n = 893 households], and Muhajiria [n = 900 households]). A nutritional survey was performed concomitantly among children aged 6 to 59 months using weight for height as an index of acute malnutrition (Kass [n = 894], Kalma [n = 888], and Muhajiria [n = 896]). A questionnaire detailing access to food and basic services was administered to a subset of households (n = 210 in each site). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Crude and under 5-year mortality rates and nutritional status of IDPs in Kass, Kalma, and Muhajiria, South Darfur. RESULTS: Crude mortality rates, expressed as deaths per 10,000 per day, were 3.2 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2-4.1) in Kass, 2.0 (95% CI, 1.3-2.7) in Kalma, and 2.3 (95% CI, 1.2-3.4) in Muhajiria. Under 5-year mortality rates were 5.9 (95% CI, 3.8-8.0) in Kass, 3.5 (95% CI, 1.5-5.7) in Kalma, and 1.0 (95% CI, 0.03-1.9) in Muhajiria. During the period of displacement covered by our survey in Muhajiria, violence was reported to be responsible for 72% of deaths, mainly among young men. Diarrheal disease was reported to cause between 25% and 47% of deaths in camp residents and mainly affected the youngest and oldest age groups. Acute malnutrition was common, affecting 14.1% of the target population in Kass, 23.6% in Kalma, and 10.7% in Muhajiria. CONCLUSION: This study provides epidemiological evidence of the high rates of mortality and malnutrition among the displaced population in South Darfur and reinforces the need to mount appropriate and timely humanitarian responses.