Multimicronutrient interventions but not vitamin a or iron interventions alone improve child growth: results of 3 meta-analyses

J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2592-602. doi: 10.1093/jn/134.10.2592.


Meta-analyses of randomized controlled intervention trials were conducted to assess the effects of vitamin A, iron, and multimicronutrient interventions on the growth of children < 18 y old. A PubMed database search and other methods identified 14 vitamin A, 21 iron, and 5 multimicronutrient intervention studies that met the design criteria. Weighted mean effect sizes and CI were calculated using a random effects model for changes in height and weight. Tests for homogeneity and stratified analyses by predefined characteristics were conducted. Vitamin A interventions had no significant effect on growth; effect sizes were 0.08 (95% CI: -0.20, 0.36) for height and -0.01 (95% CI: -0.24, 0.22) for weight. Iron interventions also had no significant effect on child growth. Overall effect sizes were 0.09 (95% CI: -0.07, 0.24) for height and 0.13 (95% CI: -0.05, 0.30) for weight. The results were similar across categories of age, duration of intervention, mode and dosage of intervention, and baseline anthropometric status. Iron interventions did result in a significant increase in hemoglobin (Hb) concentrations with an effect size of 1.49 (95% CI: 0.46, 2.51). Multimicronutrient interventions had a positive effect on child growth; the effect sizes were 0.28 (95% CI: 0.16, 0.41) for height and 0.28 (95% CI: -0.07, 0.63) for weight. Interventions limited to only vitamin A or iron did not improve child growth. Multimicronutrient interventions, on the other hand, improved linear and possibly ponderal growth in children.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Body Height / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Growth / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Iron / pharmacology*
  • Micronutrients / pharmacology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vitamin A / pharmacology*
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Micronutrients
  • Vitamin A
  • Iron