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Single-dose azithromycin for infant growth in Burkina Faso: Prespecified secondary anthropometric outcomes from a randomized controlled trial.

PLoS Medicine 2024 January 24
BACKGROUND: Antibiotic use during early infancy has been linked to childhood obesity in high-income countries. We evaluated whether a single oral dose of azithromycin administered during infant-well visits led to changes in infant growth outcomes at 6 months of age in a setting with a high prevalence of undernutrition in rural Burkina Faso.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: Infants were enrolled from September 25, 2019, until October 22, 2022, in a randomized controlled trial designed to evaluate the efficacy of a single oral dose of azithromycin (20 mg/kg) compared to placebo when administered during well-child visits for prevention of infant mortality. The trial found no evidence of a difference in the primary endpoint. This paper presents prespecified secondary anthropometric endpoints including weight gain (g/day), height change (mm/day), weight-for-age Z-score (WAZ), weight-for-length Z-score (WLZ), length-for-age Z-score (LAZ), and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC). Infants were eligible for the trial if they were between 5 and 12 weeks of age, able to orally feed, and their families were planning to remain in the study area for the duration of the study. Anthropometric measurements were collected at enrollment (5 to 12 weeks of age) and 6 months of age. Among 32,877 infants enrolled in the trial, 27,298 (83%) were followed and had valid anthropometric measurements at 6 months of age. We found no evidence of a difference in weight gain (mean difference 0.03 g/day, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.12 to 0.18), height change (mean difference 0.004 mm/day, 95% CI -0.05 to 0.06), WAZ (mean difference -0.004 SD, 95% CI -0.03 to 0.02), WLZ (mean difference 0.001 SD, 95% CI -0.03 to 0.03), LAZ (mean difference -0.005 SD, 95% CI -0.03 to 0.02), or MUAC (mean difference 0.01 cm, 95% CI -0.01 to 0.04). The primary limitation of the trial was that measurements were only collected at enrollment and 6 months of age, precluding assessment of shorter-term or long-term changes in growth.

CONCLUSIONS: Single-dose azithromycin does not appear to affect weight and height outcomes when administered during early infancy.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03676764.

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