Lipid-based nutrient supplements and all-cause mortality in children 6-24 months of age: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Christine P. Stewart, K. Ryan Wessells, Charles D. Arnold, Lieven Huybregts, Per Ashorn, Elodie Becquey, Jean H. Humphrey, Kathryn G. Dewey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Undernutrition is associated with an elevated risk of mortality among children in low-and middle-income countries. Small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS) have been evaluated as a method to prevent undernutrition and improve infant development, but the effects on mortality are unknown. Objective: Our objective was to evaluate the effect of LNS on all-cause mortality among children 6-24 mo old. Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of LNS designed to prevent undernutrition, with or without other interventions. Literature was searched in May 2019 and trials were included if they enrolled children between 6 and 24 mo old and the period of supplementation lasted ≥6 mo. We extracted data from participant flow diagrams and contacted study investigators to request data. We conducted a meta-analysis to produce summary RR estimates. Results: We identified 18 trials conducted in 11 countries that enrolled 41,280 children and reported 586 deaths. The risk of mortality was lower in the LNS arms than in the non-LNS comparison arms (RR: 0.73; 95% CI: 0.59, 0.89; 13 trials). Estimates were similar when trials with maternal LNS intervention arms were added or when alternative formulations of LNS were excluded. The results appeared stronger in trials in which LNS were compared with passive control arms. Excluding these contrasts and only comparing multicomponent arms with LNS groups and comparison groups that contained all the same components without LNS attenuated the effect estimate (RR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.61, 1.10). Conclusions: LNS provided for the prevention of undernutrition may reduce the risk of mortality, but more trials with appropriate comparison groups allowing isolation of the effect of LNS alone are needed. This study was registered at as CRD42019128718.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-218
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • child mortality
  • complementary feeding
  • home fortification
  • infants and young children
  • lipid-based nutrient supplement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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