An Integrated Infant and Young Child Feeding and Micronutrient Powder Intervention Does Not Affect Anemia, Iron Status, or Vitamin A Status among Children Aged 12-23 Months in Eastern Uganda

J Nutr. 2020 Apr 1;150(4):938-944. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz314.


Background: Micronutrient powders (MNP) can reduce iron deficiency and anemia in children.

Objective: We evaluated the impact of an integrated infant and young child feeding (IYCF)-MNP intervention on anemia and micronutrient status among children aged 12-23 mo in Eastern Uganda. The intervention focused on MNP distribution, IYCF education, and caregiver behavior change.

Methods: Population-based cross-sectional surveys representative of children aged 12-23 mo in Amuria (intervention) and Soroti (nonintervention) districts were collected in June/July 2015 at baseline (n = 1260) and 12 mo after implementation at endline in 2016 (n = 1490). From pooled capillary blood, we assessed hemoglobin, malaria, ferritin, retinol binding protein (RBP), C-reactive protein, and ɑ1-acid glycoprotein. Ferritin and RBP were regression-adjusted to correct for inflammation. Caregivers reported sociodemographic characteristics and MNP knowledge and practices. Linear regression estimated the difference-in-difference (DiD) effect of MNP on hemoglobin, ferritin, and RBP, and logistic regression estimated DiD effect of MNP on anemia (hemoglobin <11.0 g/dL), iron deficiency (ferritin <12.0 µg/L), iron deficiency anemia (hemoglobin <11.0 g/dL and ferritin <12.0 µg/L), and vitamin A deficiency (VAD; RBP equivalent to <0.70 µmol/L retinol: <0.79 µmol/L at baseline and RBP <0.67 µmol/L at endline).

Results: In Amuria, 96% of children had ever consumed MNP versus <1% of children in Soroti. Fifty-four percent of caregivers reported organoleptic changes when MNP were added to foods cooked with soda ash. Adjusting for age, sex, malaria, recent morbidity, and household-level factors, the intervention was associated with -0.83 g/dL lower hemoglobin (95% CI, -1.36, -0.30 g/dL; P = 0.003) but not with anemia, ferritin, iron deficiency, iron deficiency anemia, RBP, or VAD.

Conclusions: Despite high program fidelity, the intervention was associated with reduced hemoglobin concentrations but not with change in anemia or micronutrient status among children aged 12-23 mo in Eastern Uganda. Contextual factors, such as cooking with soda ash, might explain the lack of effectiveness.

Keywords: MNP; anemia; iron deficiency; micronutrient powders; vitamin A deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / epidemiology
  • Anemia / prevention & control*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pilot Projects
  • Powders
  • Uganda / epidemiology
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / prevention & control*


  • Micronutrients
  • Powders
  • Vitamin A
  • Iron