Effectiveness of unconditional cash transfers combined with lipid-based nutrient supplement and/or behavior change communication to prevent stunting among children in Pakistan: a cluster randomized controlled trial

Sajid Bashir Soofi, Shabina Ariff, Gul Nawaz Khan, Atif Habib, Sumra Kureishy, Yasir Ihtesham, Masawar Hussain, Arjumand Rizvi, Muhammad Sajid, Naveed Akbar, Cecilia Garzon, Saskia De Pee, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

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6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: In Pakistan, the prevalence of stunting among children younger than 5 y has remained above WHO critical thresholds (≥30%) over the past 2 decades. Objectives: We hypothesized that an unconditional cash transfer (UCT) combined with lipid-based nutrient supplement (LNS) and/or social and behavior change communication (SBCC) will prevent stunting among children 6-23 mo of age. Methods: This was a 4-arm, community-based cluster randomized controlled trial conducted in the district of Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan. A total of 1729 children (UCT, n = 434; UCT + SBCC, n = 433; UCT + LNS, n = 430; and UCT + LNS + SBCC, n = 432) were enrolled at 6 mo of age and measured monthly for 18 mo until the age of 24 mo. Results: At 24 mo of age, children who received UCT + LNS [rate ratio (RR): 0.85; 95% CI: 0.74, 0.97; P = 0.015) and UCT + LNS + SBCC (RR: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.77, 0.96; P = 0.007) had a significantly lower risk of being stunted compared with the UCT arm. No significant difference was noted among children who received UCT + SBCC (RR: 1.03; 95% CI: 0.91, 1.16; P = 0.675) in the risk of being stunted compared with the UCT arm. The pooled prevalence of stunting among children aged 6-23 mo was 41.7%, 44.8%, 38.5%, and 39.3% in UCT, UCT + SBCC, UCT + LNS, and UCT + LNS + SBCC, respectively. In pairwise comparisons, a significant impact on stunting among children in UCT + LNS (P = 0.029) and UCT + LNS + SBCC (P = <0.001) was noted compared with the UCT arm. Conclusions: UCT combined with LNS and UCT + LNS + SBCC were effective in reducing the prevalence of stunting among children aged 6-23 mo in marginalized populations. UCT + SBCC was not effective in reducing the child stunting prevalence. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03299218.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-502
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume115
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • Children
  • Lipid-based nutrient supplement
  • Social and behavior change communication
  • Stunting
  • Unconditional cash transfer

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