Double-blind cluster randomised controlled trial of wheat flourchapattifortified with micronutrients on the status of vitamin A and iron in school-aged children in rural Bangladesh

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Food fortification is a cost-effective and sustainable strategy to prevent or correct micronutrient deficiencies. A double-blind cluster (bari) randomised controlled trial was conducted in a rural community in Bangladesh to evaluate the impact of consumption of chapatti made of micronutrient-fortified wheat flour for 6 months by school-aged children on their vitamin A, haemoglobin and iron status. A total of 43 baris (group of households) were randomly selected. The baris were randomly assigned to either intervention or control group. The intervention group received wheat flour fortified with added micronutrients (including 66 mg hydrogen-reduced elemental iron and 3030 μg retinol equivalent as retinyl palmitate per kilogram of flour), while the control group received wheat flour without added micronutrients. A total of 352 children were enrolled in the trial, 203 in the intervention group and 149 in the control group. Analyses were carried out on children who completed the study (191 in the intervention group and 143 in the control group). Micronutrient-fortified wheat flour chapatti significantly increased serum retinol concentration at 6 months by 0.12 μmol L−1 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.06, 0.19; P < 0.01]. The odds of vitamin A deficiency was significantly lower for children in the intervention group at 3 months [odds ratio (OR) = 0.26; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.07, 0.89; P < 0.05] and 6 months (OR = 0.21; 95% CI: 0.06, 0.68; P < 0.01). No demonstrable effect of fortified chapatti consumption on iron status, haemoglobin levels or anaemia was observed. Consumption of fortified chapattis demonstrated a significant improvement in the vitamin A status, but not in iron, haemoglobin or anaemia status.

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