Trial of ready-to-use supplemental food and corn-soy blend in pregnant Malawian women with moderate malnutrition: A randomized controlled clinical trial

Meghan Callaghan-Gillespie, Andrew A. Schaffner, Patsy Garcia, Jocelyn Fry, Rachael Eckert, Shirin Malek, Indi Trehan, Chrissie Thakwalakwa, Kenneth M. Maleta, Mark J. Manary, Peggy C. Papathakis

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11 Scopus citations


Background: Malnutrition during pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa is associated with poor birth outcomes. Objective: This study compared maternal and offspring anthropometry for moderately malnourished pregnant women receiving ready-to-use supplemental food (RUSF), a fortified corn-soy blend (CSB+) with a daily multiple micronutrient antenatal supplement [United Nations International Multiple Micronutrient Preparation (UNIMMAP)], or standard of care comprising CSB+ and iron and folic acid (IFA). Design: A single-blind randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted in southern Malawi among 1828 pregnant women with moderate malnutrition, defined as a midupper arm circumference (MUAC) $20.6 and #23.0 cm. Women received 1 of 3 dietary treatment regimens that provided w900 kcal/d and 33–36 g protein/d. Maternal and infant anthropometry were followed until the child was 3 mo old. Results: Newborns had a mean length-for-age z score of 21.3 6 1.2 and 22% were stunted at birth. Mothers receiving RUSF had the highest weight gain during supplementation (3.4 6 2.6, 3.0 6 2.2, and 3.2 6 2.4 kg for the RUSF, CSB+ with UNIMMAP, and CSB+ with IFA groups, respectively; P = 0.03). Newborn birth weights and lengths were similar across intervention groups, but the incidence of newborns with a birth weight,2.4 kg (weight-for-age z score,22) was higher in the CSB+ with UNIMMAP group than the other groups (17%, 18%, and 24% for the CSB+ with IFA, RUSF, and CSB+ with UNIMMAP groups, respectively; P = 0.02). At birth, HIV-exposed newborns had a similar length and weight as newborns without HIV exposure, but their head circumference was smaller (34.0 6 1.5 and 34.3 6 1.6 cm, respectively; P = 0.02). At 3 mo of age, HIV-exposed infants had smaller weights, lengths, and head and arm circumferences than infants without HIV exposure. Conclusions: RUSF improved maternal weight gain compared with CSB+ with UNIMMAP. The large amount of food given and the modest effect on linear growth in newborns suggests that stunting in utero is unlikely to be reduced by supplemental food alone. This trial was registered at as NCT02120599.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1062-1069
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Dietary supplementation
  • Malawi
  • Maternal malnutrition
  • Pregnancy
  • RUSF


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