Multiple micronutrient supplementation using spirulina platensis and infant growth, morbidity, and motor development: Evidence from a randomized trial in Zambia
Public Library of Science (PLoS) -- PLOS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0211693

In developing countries, micronutrient deficiency in infants is associated with growth faltering, morbidity, and delayed motor development. One of the potentially low-cost and sustainable solutions is to use locally producible food for the home fortification of complementary foods. This study aimed to test the hypothesis that locally producible spirulina platensis supplementation would achieve the following: 1) increase infant physical growth, 2) reduce morbidity, and 3) improve motor development. We randomly assigned 501 Zambian infants into the control group or the spirulina group. Children in the control group (n = 250) received a soya-maize-based porridge for 12 months; those in the spirulina group (n = 251) received the same food with the addition of spirulina. We assessed the change in infants’ anthropometric status, morbidity (probable pneumonia, cough, probable malaria, and fever), and motor development over 12 months. The baseline characteristics were not different between the two groups. The attrition rate (47/501) was low. The physical growth of infants in the two groups was similar at 12 months of intervention, as measured by height-for-age z-scores and weight-for-age z-scores. Infants in the spirulina group were 11 percentage points less likely to develop a cough (CI: -0.23, -0.00; P < 0.05) and were more likely to be able to walk alone at 15 months (0.96 ± 0.19) than infants in the control group (0.92 ± 0.28). Home-fortification of complementary foods using spirulina had positive effects on upper respiratory infection morbidity prevention and motor milestone acquisition among Zambian infants.