Matsuyama M; Harb T; David M; Davies PSW; Hill RJ. - - Public Health Nutr 2017; 20: 1214-25.

Effect of fortified milk on growth and nutritional status in young children: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Objective Adequate nutrition is critical for optimal growth and development. However, young children may be at risk of nutrient deficiencies when transitioning to weaning foods for a variety of reasons. Supplementation with fortified milk may provide potentially lacking essential nutrients, but effects on growth and nutritional status are yet to be established.

Design Five databases were searched for randomised controlled trials using fortified milk against control milk in young children. Outcomes were growth, body composition and/or biochemical markers. Pooled differences in means were calculated for continuous outcomes and odds ratios for binary outcomes. Setting Randomised controlled trials set in any country.

Subjects Otherwise healthy children aged 6-47 months. Results Fifteen articles met the eligibility criteria. Fortification varied from Fe, Zn, vitamins, essential fatty acids, to pre- and/or probiotics. Frequently reported outcomes were weight, height and Fe status. Studies varied in geographical location, sample size and duration. Fortified milk had minimal effects on weight gain (mean difference=0·17 kg; 95 % CI 0·02, 0·31 kg) compared with control milk. The risk of anaemia was reduced in fortified milk groups (OR=0·32; 95 % CI 0·15, 0·66) compared with control groups. There were no significant effects on height gain, changes in body composition or Hb concentration. Conclusions Fortified milk is an effective source of complementary nutrition to supplement children in need when consumed in appropriate amounts in addition to a normal diet. Due to compositional differences, further research on fortified milk is warranted before making global recommendations on benefits for growth and nutritional outcomes in young children.

Keywords: Young children; Fortified milk; Growth; Iron deficiency; Nutritional status