The effects of dietary supplementation with textured soya bean protein and provitamin a on growth rate and Diarrhoea experience among malnourished children in Makumbe hospital rehabilitation centre, Zimbabwe
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A prospective study (lnterventional ln nature) was carried out to assess the effect of dietary supplementation with either texturized soya bean protein (TVP) and provitamin A (betacarotene from carrots) or with TVP alone on growth rate (weight gain), diarrhoea experience and rehabilitation period among malnourished children,' at Makumbe Hospital Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre, Zimbabwe. The study comprised of 49 children aged between 6-60 months i.e. 26 in non- vitamin A supplemented diet (NVASD) group whose diet was supplemented with TVP alone and 23 in vitamin A supplemented diet (VASD) group whose diet was supplemented with TVP and provitamin A. A time-based quota sampling procedure was used to allocate children to the groups. Discharge criteria from the study was a gain of 1 Kg or after 21 days of stay if the child failed to aitain the weight. The characteristics of the two groups were practically similar. The results showed that, overall there was no significant difference between the' supplemented diet groups even after categorization by sex, age and type of malnutrition, in their growth rate, diarrhoea experience and rehabilitation period. However, the children in the VASD group had a slightly higher growth rate (8.6 g/kg body weight/day) compared to the NVASD group whose growth rate was ? 8 g/kg body weight/day. The diarrhoea experience for children ln the VASD group (0.5 diarrhoea days) was lower compared to the NVASD group (1.2 diarrhoea days). Marasmic children in the NVASD group experienced higher diarrhoea episodes (6.0 diarrhoea days) compared to marasmic children in VASD group (3.5 diarrhoea days) which was significantly different (p<0.05). The rehabilitation period for VASD group (16.5 days) was slightly shorter than that for NVASD group which was 18.2 days. It is noteworth that the children in the VASD group had consistently better outcomes in the the three parameters assessed compared to those in NVASD group. The results suggests that dietary supplementation with textured soya bean protein with or without provitamin A may be beneficial to malnourished children as it promotes a growth rate (weight gain) which is higher than the recommended growth rate which diets suitable for nutritional rehabilitation should promote.