evidence-based blog of Filippo Dibari

Prenatal malnutrition and adult cognitive impairment: a natural experiment from the 1959–1961 Chinese famine

In Under-nutrition on May 10, 2018 at 8:39 pm

from British Journal of Nutrition – link

by Ping He, Li Liu, J. M. Ian Salas, Chao Guo, Yunfei Cheng, Gong Chen and Xiaoying Zheng 


The current measures of cognitive functioning in adulthood do not indicate a long-term association with prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine. However, whether such association emerges in China is poorly understood.

We aimed to investigate the potential effect of prenatal exposure to the 1959–1961 Chinese famine on adult cognitive impairment. We obtained data from the Second National Sample Survey on Disability implemented in thirty-one provinces in 2006, and restricted our analysis to 387 093 individuals born in 1956–1965.

Cognitive impairment was defined as intelligence quotient (IQ) score under 70 and IQ of adults was evaluated by the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – China Revision. Famine severity was defined as excess death rate. The famine impact on adult cognitive impairment was estimated by difference-in-difference models, established by examining the variations of famine exposure across birth cohorts.

Results show that compared with adults born in 1956–1958, those who were exposed to Chinese famine during gestation (born in 1959–1961) were at greater risk of cognitive impairment in the total sample. Stratified analyses showed that this effect was evident in males and females, but only in rural, not in urban areas.

In conclusion, prenatal exposure to famine had an enduring deleterious effect on risk of cognitive impairment in rural adults.

Impact on birth weight and child growth of Participatory Learning and Action women’s groups with and without transfers of food or cash during pregnancy: Findings of the low birth weight South Asia cluster-randomised controlled trial (LBWSAT) in Nepal

In Under-nutrition on May 10, 2018 at 8:31 pm

from PlosOne website




Undernutrition during pregnancy leads to low birthweight, poor growth and inter-generational undernutrition. We did a non-blinded cluster-randomised controlled trial in the plains districts of Dhanusha and Mahottari, Nepal to assess the impact on birthweight and weight-for-age z-scores among children aged 0–16 months of community-based participatory learning and action (PLA) women’s groups, with and without food or cash transfers to pregnant women.


We randomly allocated 20 clusters per arm to four arms (average population/cluster = 6150). All consenting married women aged 10–49 years, who had not had tubal ligation and whose husbands had not had vasectomy, were monitored for missed menses. Between 29 Dec 2013 and 28 Feb 2015 we recruited 25,092 pregnant women to surveillance and interventions: PLA alone (n = 5626); PLA plus food (10 kg/month of fortified wheat-soya ‘Super Cereal’, n = 6884); PLA plus cash (NPR750≈US$7.5/month, n = 7272); control (existing government programmes, n = 5310). 539 PLA groups discussed and implemented strategies to improve low birthweight, nutrition in pregnancy and hand washing. Primary outcomes were birthweight within 72 hours of delivery and weight-for-age z-scores at endline (age 0–16 months). Only children born to permanent residents between 4 June 2014 and 20 June 2015 were eligible for intention to treat analyses (n = 10936), while in-migrating women and children born before interventions had been running for 16 weeks were excluded. Trial status: completed.


In PLA plus food/cash arms, 94–97% of pregnant women attended groups and received a mean of four transfers over their pregnancies. In the PLA only arm, 49% of pregnant women attended groups. Due to unrest, the response rate for birthweight was low at 22% (n = 2087), but response rate for endline nutritional and dietary measures exceeded 83% (n = 9242). Compared to the control arm (n = 464), mean birthweight was significantly higher in the PLA plus food arm by 78·0 g (95% CI 13·9, 142·0; n = 626) and not significantly higher in PLA only and PLA plus cash arms by 28·9 g (95% CI -37·7, 95·4; n = 488) and 50·5 g (95% CI -15·0, 116·1; n = 509) respectively. Mean weight-for-age z-scores of children aged 0–16 months (average age 9 months) sampled cross-sectionally at endpoint, were not significantly different from those in the control arm (n = 2091). Differences in weight for-age z-score were as follows: PLA only -0·026 (95% CI -0·117, 0·065; n = 2095); PLA plus cash -0·045 (95% CI -0·133, 0·044; n = 2545); PLA plus food -0·033 (95% CI -0·121, 0·056; n = 2507). Amongst many secondary outcomes tested, compared with control, more institutional deliveries (OR: 1.46 95% CI 1.03, 2.06; n = 2651) and less colostrum discarding (OR:0.71 95% CI 0.54, 0.93; n = 2548) were found in the PLA plus food arm but not in PLA alone or in PLA plus cash arms.


Food supplements in pregnancy with PLA women’s groups increased birthweight more than PLA plus cash or PLA alone but differences were not sustained. Nutrition interventions throughout the thousand-day period are recommended.

Trial registration


Child growth monitor app: a game-changer?

In Over-nutrition, Under-nutrition on May 9, 2018 at 12:52 am

from Welt Hunger Hilfe webpage

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