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This article is part of the supplement: The Lives Saved Tool in 2013: new capabilities and applications

Open Access Review

Effectiveness of Micronutrient Powders (MNP) in women and children

Rehana A Salam1, Ceilidh MacPhail2, Jai K Das1 and Zulfiqar A Bhutta13*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Women & Child Health, The Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

2 University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3 Global Child Health and Policy, Centre for Global Child Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13(Suppl 3):S22  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-S3-S22

Published: 17 September 2013

Abstract

Introduction

More than 3.5 million women and children under five die each year in poor countries due to underlying undernutrition. Many of these are associated with concomitant micronutrient deficiencies. In the last decade point of use or home fortification has emerged to tackle the widespread micronutrient deficiencies. We in this review have estimated the effect of Micronutrient Powders (MNPs) on the health outcomes of women and children.

Methods

We systematically reviewed literature published up to November 2012 to identify studies describing the effectiveness of MNPs. We used a standardized abstraction and grading format to estimate the effect of MNPs by applying the standard Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) rules.

Results

We included 17 studies in this review. MNPs significantly reduced the prevalence of anemia by 34% (RR: 0.66, 95% CI: 0.57-0.77), iron deficiency anemia by 57% (RR: 0.43, 95% CI: 0.35-0.52) and retinol deficiency by 21% (RR: 0.79, 95% CI: 0.64, 0.98). It also significantly improved the hemoglobin levels (SMD: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.55-1.40). While there were no statistically significant impacts observed for serum ferritin and zinc deficiency. Our analysis shows no impact of MNPs on various anthropometric outcomes including stunting (RR: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.81, 1.04), wasting (RR: 1.13, 95% CI: 0.91, 1.40), underweight (RR:0.96, 95% CI: 0.83, 1.10), HAZ (SMD: 0.04, 95% CI: -0.13, 0.22), WAZ (SMD: 0.05, 95% CI: -0.12, 0.23) and WHZ (SMD: 0.04, 95% CI: -0.13, 0.21), although showing favorable trends. MNPs were found to be associated with significant increase in diarrhea (RR: 1.04, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.06) with non-significant impacts on fever and URI.

Conclusion

Our analysis of the effect of MNPs in children suggests benefit in improving anemia and hemoglobin however the lack of impact on growth and evidence of increased diarrhea requires careful consideration before recommending the intervention for implementing at scale.