Objective: Stunting is a common cause of early child developmental delay; Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of stunting globally. The goal of this study was to examine the impact of an intensive community health worker-led complementary feeding intervention on early child development in Guatemala. We hypothesised that the intervention would improve child development over usual care.
Design: A substudy from a larger individually randomised (1:1 allocation ratio), parallel-group superiority trial, with blinding of study staff collecting outcomes data.
Setting: Rural, indigenous Maya communities in Guatemala.
Participants: 210 stunted children (height-for-age z-score ≤-2.5) aged 6-24 months, previously randomised to usual care (106) or an intensive complementary feeding intervention (104). 84 in the intervention and 91 in the usual care arm agreed to participate.
Interventions: Community health workers conducted monthly home visits for 6 months, providing usual care or individualised complementary feeding education.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcomes were change in z-scores for the subscales of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID), Third Edition.
Results: 100 individuals were included in the final analysis, 47 in the intervention and 53 in the usual care arm. No statistically significant differences in age-adjusted scores between the arms were observed for any subscale. However, improvements within-subjects in both arms were observed (median duration between measurements 189 days (IQR 182-189)). Mean change for subscales was 0.45 (95% CI 0.23 to 0.67) z-scores in the intervention, and 0.43 (95% CI 0.25 to 0.61) in the usual care arm.
Conclusions: An intensive complementary feeding intervention did not significantly improve developmental outcomes more than usual care in stunted, indigenous Guatemalan children. However, both interventions had significant positive impacts on developmental outcomes.
Trial registration number: NCT02509936.
Keywords: Guatemala; community health workers; early child development; indigenous; randomized clinical trial; stunting.