IYCN Update: July 2010

Welcome to the sixth issue of the IYCN Update, a newsletter from USAID’s Infant & Young Child Nutrition (IYCN) Project. Distributed four times per year, each issue offers updates on the latest research, new resources, and project news. 

Research highlights

Nutrition education improves growth in rural China
An article in the April 2010 issue of Public Health Nutrition presents findings from a randomized controlled trail of an education intervention designed to improve complementary feeding practices in China. Children in villages that received the intervention gained significantly more weight and length and experienced faster growth velocity compared to a control group. These results offer further evidence that educational messages alone can improve linear growth in food-secure low-income groups. Read more.

Local micronutrient fortification of school meals improves nutrition
The June 2010 issue of The Journal of Nutrition revealed results from a trial in India that tested the nutritional impact of giving school meals fortified with micronutrients onsite. The treatment group experienced significant improvements in total body iron, serum retinol, and folate compared to the control group. The authors concluded that point-of-use fortification of school meals using existing infrastructure is a cost-effective, locally acceptable, and sustainable way to implement micronutrient fortification programs. Read more.

Can low-phytate maize or zinc supplements enhance growth?
An article published in the May 2010 issue of The Journal of Nutrition presents the results of a trial that measured the effect of giving low-phytate maize, zinc supplements, or both on linear growth velocity among Guatemalan infants aged 6 to 12 months. Low-phytate maize did not show any effect, but the zinc supplements increased serum zinc concentration. Even so, the authors found no impact on child growth, leaving the cause of early stunting in Guatemala still unexplained. Read more.

Why does exclusive breastfeeding reduce HIV transmision from mother to child?
An article in the March 2010 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases explores the hypothesis that lower levels of mastitis among women who exclusively breastfeed is the mechanism by which exclusive breastfeeding protects against mother-to-child transmission of HIV (MTCT). Results showed no association between mixed feeding and mastitis. Mastitis was predictive of MTCT, but only when maternal plasma HIV load was high. Read more.


Q&A: Nigeria

Responding to the 2009 World Health Organization recommendations

Wasiu "Prince" Afolabi, IYCN Nigeria

In a Q&A, the IYCN Project’s Wasiu “Prince” Afolabi shares the latest on his country’s interpretation of the November 2009 World Health Organization recommendations on infant feeding and HIV.

After much debate and examination, national nutrition and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV stakeholders reached a consensus to adopt the new guidelines. The decision, he says, is a major step toward increasing HIV-free survival of children. Prince will present this experience at the XVIII International AIDS Conference.

Read our Q&A with Prince.


Country spotlight: Zambia

Provincial training teams increase nutrition support for HIV-positive mom

Eastern Province Trainers, including Sydney (back, left), on a supervisory visit to Mwami Hospital in Eastern Province.

Offering better nutrition support to keep HIV-exposed children healthy in Zambia’s Eastern Province was a problem that Sydney Kambobe, a provincial nutrition specialist, had grappled with for several years. In Zambia, poor feeding practices put children of HIV-positive mothers at high risk of HIV transmission. With the support of the IYCN Project, Sydney is now part of a local team that is training health workers to support HIV-positive moms to practice safer feeding. Learn more.


Update from the field: Côte d’Ivoire

Equipping social centers to meet the nutrition needs of orphans and vulnerable children

Venance Kouakou, IYCN technical advisor, Côte d’Ivoire

Venance Kouakou, IYCN technical advisor in Côte d’Ivoire, joined US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and government officials on May 18 for a ceremony marking the launch of efforts to support social centers in improving nutrition for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

At the event, IYCN presented directors of 21 social centers from across the country with anthropometric tools to identify malnourished OVC and equipment for cooking demonstrations.

Read a message from Venance to learn about how IYCN is helping to meet the nutrition needs of OVC.


Project news

Investing in nutrition is key to feeding the future
In May, the US Government launched the Feed the Future Guide, describing its strategy to address global hunger and food security. The strategy emphasizes that investments in addressing the root causes of undernutrition can improve the lives of mothers and their children. The guide highlights the role IYCN is playing in preventing malnutrition in Haiti. View the guide.

Educating US policymakers on maternal and child health
IYCN’s Altrena Mukuria joined policymakers, congressional staff, and global health colleagues to discuss the role of health systems in improving maternal and child health during a May 25 Capitol Hill briefing in Washington, DC. Dr. Mukuria highlighted the vital work that IYCN does to improve health systems and increase the capacity of health workers, as well as how health systems are integral to improving the health of women and children throughout the world. Learn more.



Maximizing Nutritional Benefits from Agricultural Interventions
The IYCN team brought together nutrition, agriculture, and other global health colleagues on June 14 for a lively session at the Global Health Council’s annual conference. Participants discussed the intersection between agriculture and nutrition and explored a nutritional impact assessment tool to help program planners meet the vision of the many new initiatives addressing nutrition, global hunger, and food security. Read a summary of the session and download the PowerPoint presentation.

XVIII International AIDS Conference
Last week at the AIDS 2010 conference in Vienna, Austria the IYCN team hosted three exciting infant feeding and HIV sessions:

Poster: Improving child health and HIV-free survival
Monday, July 19

Workshop: Safer feeding for HIV-exposed children
Tuesday, July 20

Satellite session: New opportunities to prevent pediatric HIV and improve child survival
Thursday, July 22


We welcome your feedback and suggestions for our next issue. Please contact: info@iycn.org.

Photos: Aurelio Ayala III, Christine Demmelmaier, Nampo, Jay Ward, Oluseyi Akintola