Inadequate feeding and care may contribute to high rates of stunting and underweight among children in rural families in India. This cluster-randomized trial tested the hypothesis that teaching caregivers appropriate complementary feeding and strategies for how to feed and play responsively through home-visits would increase children's dietary intake, growth and development compared with home-visit-complementary feeding education alone or routine care. Sixty villages in Andhra Pradesh were randomized into three groups of 20 villages with 200 mother-infant dyads in each group. The control group (CG) received routine Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS); the complementary feeding group (CFG) received the ICDS plus the World Health Organization recommendations on breastfeeding and complementary foods; and the responsive complementary feeding and play group (RCF&PG) received the same intervention as the CFG plus skills for responsive feeding and psychosocial stimulation. Both intervention groups received bi-weekly visits by trained village women. The groups did not differ at 3 months on socioeconomic status, maternal and child nutritional indices, and maternal depression. After controlling for potential confounding factors using the mixed models approach, the 12-month intervention to the CFG and RCF&PG significantly (P < 0.05) increased median intakes of energy, protein, Vitamin A, calcium (CFG), iron and zinc, reduced stunting [0.19, confidence interval (CI): 0.0-0.4] in the CFG (but not RCF&PG) and increased (P < 0.01) Bayley Mental Development scores (mean = 3.1, CI: 0.8-5.3) in the RCF&PG (but not CFG) compared with CG. Community-based educational interventions can improve dietary intake, length (CFG) and mental development (RCF&PG) for children under 2 years in food-secure rural Indian families.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.