Introduction The current standard of care for children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) involves using ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) to promote growth; however, the precise formulation to achieve optimal recovery remains unclear. Emerging research suggests that alternative RUTF formulations may be more effective in correcting SAM-related complications such as anaemia and iron deficiency. This systematic review commissioned by the WHO aims to synthesise the most recent research on the iron content in RUTF and related products in the community-based treatment of uncomplicated severe malnutrition in children aged 6 months and older. Methods and analysis We will search multiple electronic databases. We will include randomised controlled trials and non-randomised studies with a control arm. The intervention group will be infants who received RUTF treatments other than the current recommended guidelines set forth by the WHO. The comparison group is children receiving RUTF containing iron at the current WHO-recommended level of 1.9 mg/100 kcal (10-14 mg/100 g). The primary outcomes of interest include blood haemoglobin concentration, any anaemia, severe anaemia, iron-deficiency anaemia, recovery from SAM and any adverse outcomes. We will use meta-analysis to pool findings if sufficient homogeneity exists among included studies. The risk of bias in studies will be evaluated using the Cochrane risk of bias-2. We will use the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation(GRADE) approach to examine the overall certainty of evidence. Ethics and dissemination This is a systematic review and will not involve direct contact with human subjects. The findings of this review will be published in a peer-reviewed journal and will guide the WHO's recommendation on the optimal iron content in RUTFs for the treatment of SAM in children aged 6-59 months.
- nutrition & dietetics
- public health