Early Life Interventions for Childhood Growth and Development in Tanzania (ELICIT): a protocol for a randomised factorial, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of azithromycin, nitazoxanide and nicotinamide

BMJ Open. 2018 Jul 7;8(7):e021817. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-021817.


Introduction: In many developing areas in the world, a high burden of enteric pathogens in early childhood are associated with growth deficits. The tryptophan-kynurenine-niacin pathway has been linked to enteric inflammatory responses to intestinal infections. However, it is not known in these settings whether scheduled antimicrobial intervention to reduce subclinical enteric pathogen carriage or repletion of the tryptophan-kynurenine-niacin pathway improves linear growth and development.

Methods and analysis: We are conducting a randomised, placebo-controlled, factorial intervention trial in the rural setting of Haydom, Tanzania. We are recruiting 1188 children within the first 14 days of life, who will be randomised in a 2×2 factorial design to administration of antimicrobials (azithromycin and nitazoxanide, randomised together) and nicotinamide. The nicotinamide is administered as a daily oral dose, which for breast-feeding children aged 0-6 months is given to the mother and for children aged 6-18 months is given to the child directly. Azithromycin is given to the child as a single oral dose at months 6, 9, 12 and 15; nitazoxanide is given as a 3-day course at months 12 and 15. Mother/child pairs are followed via monthly in-home visits. The primary outcome is the child's length-for-age Z-score at 18 months. Secondary outcomes for the child include additional anthropometry measures; stool pathogen burden and bacterial microbiome; systemic and enteric inflammation; blood metabolomics, growth factors, inflammation and nutrition; hydrogen breath assessment to estimate small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth and assessment of cognitive development. Secondary outcomes for the mother include breastmilk content of nicotinamide, other vitamins and amino acids; blood measures of tryptophan-kynurenine-niacin pathway and stool pathogens.

Ethics and dissemination: This trial has been approved by the Tanzanian National Institute for Medical Research, the Tanzanian FDA and the University of Virginia IRB. Findings will be presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-review journals.

Protocol version: 5.0, 4 December 2017.

Protocol sponsor: Haydom Lutheran Hospital, Haydom, Manyara, Tanzania.

Trial registration number: NCT03268902; Pre-results.

Keywords: Tanzania; antibiotics; development; growth; niacin; stunting.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antiparasitic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Azithromycin / administration & dosage*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Growth and Development / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mothers
  • Niacinamide / administration & dosage*
  • Nitro Compounds
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tanzania
  • Thiazoles / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin B Complex / administration & dosage*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antiparasitic Agents
  • Nitro Compounds
  • Thiazoles
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Niacinamide
  • Azithromycin
  • nitazoxanide

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03268902