Fortified milk can counteract childhood malnutrition

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Fortified milk can counteract childhood malnutrition

Date: 
Tue, 08/24/2010

Fortifying milk with zinc and iron has been linked to improved childhood development. A study done by scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Annamalai University in India suggests that milk fortified with micronutrients can be an effective tool for alleviating nutritional deficiencies among many young children.

The study was carried out on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. There were 633 child participants between the ages of 1 and 4. They were split into a group that drank fortified milk, while the others drank a regular milk product. The fortified milk contained zinc, iron, selenium, copper, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

The children were given three servings of milk a day for a year. Certain health parameters were measured throughout the year. Stunted growth and other health problems are associated with deficiency of essential micronutrients, especially in low income countries. Fortification is currently being studied as a potential strategy to fight such malnutrition.

Compared to children in the control group, children who drank the fortified milk showed significant improvement in height and weight gain. Improvements were also observed in levels of mean hemoglobin and serum ferritin, which correlates with body iron, levels. Children in the fortified group had an 88 per cent lower risk of iron deficiency anemia.

The scientists concluded that fortification provides a potential strategy for achieving goals targeted for reduction in mortality, morbidity and malnutrition among children.