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Palm oil and pyrantel as child nutrition mass interventions in Papua New Guinea

, : Palm oil and pyrantel as child nutrition mass interventions in Papua New Guinea. Tropical and Geographical Medicine 37(1): 1-10

Two mass interventions in the local low energy-density diet were evaluated for safety, acceptability and nutritional efficacy in a four-group matched study of 896 Papua New Guinea children aged 12-54 months. A single dose of 125 mg of pyrantel pamoate and an 800 mg supply of red palm oil were given monthly at the regular child health clinics. Both were safe and highly accepted. Children given palm oil gained more weight than controls (P less than .05) in the first three study months, confirming a pilot study. However, weight gain after one year was 94% of standard, with no differences in anthropometry, morbidity or mortality between groups. The lack of demonstrable differences at one year is attributed to secular improvement in control group nutrition and to diffusion of palm oil supplies within the family. While pyrantel was an effective antihelminthic, further study is needed to define the nutritional role of mass worm treatment. Palm oil was economical and culturally popular; thus it should be an ideal import substitution. It is clinically useful where diets are of low energy-density. However, any simultaneous demonstration of its nutritional safety, acceptability as a sustained mass intervention must be carried out in an area where major child growth deficits remain and expropriation of the oil by other household members can be controlled.


PMID: 4012846

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