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Two Food-Assisted Maternal and Child Health Nutrition Programs Helped Mitigate the Impact of Economic Hardship on Child Stunting in Haiti
Authors: Shannon Donegan, John A. Maluccio, Caitlin K. Myers, Purnima Menon, Marie T. Ruel and Jean-Pierre Habicht
Source: Journal of Nutrition, (April 14, 2010). doi:10.3945/jn.109.114272
Topic(s): Child health
Country: Latin American/Caribbean
Published: APR 2010
Abstract: Rigorous evaluations of food-assisted maternal and child health and nutrition programs are stymied by the ethics of randomizing recipients to a control treatment. Using nonexperimental matching methods, we evaluated the effect of 2 such programs on child linear growth in Haiti. The 2 well-implemented programs offered the same services (food assistance, behavior change communication, and preventive health services) to pregnant and lactating women and young children. They differed in that one (the preventive program) used blanket targeting of all children 6–23 mo, whereas the other (the recuperative program) targeted underweight (weight-for-age Z score < –2) children 6–59 mo, as traditionally done. We estimated program effects on height-for-age Z scores (HAZ) and stunting (HAZ < –2) by comparing outcomes of children in program areas with matched children from comparable populations in the Haiti Demographic and Health Survey. Children 12–41 mo in the preventive and recuperative program areas had lower prevalence of stunting than those in the matched control group [16 percentage points (pp) lower in preventive and 11 pp in recuperative]. Children in the 2 program areas also were more likely than those in the matched control group to be breast-fed up to 24 mo (25 pp higher in preventive, 22 in recuperative) and children 12 mo and older were more likely to have received the recommended full schedule of vaccinations (32 pp higher in preventive, 31 in recuperative). Both programs improved targeted behaviors and protected child growth in a time of deteriorating economic circumstances.