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Growth patterns of 11 to 29-month-old children consuming young child formula: secondary analysis of a randomized, controlled study.

INTRODUCTION: The impact of young child formula (YCF) consumption on children's growth, particularly under sub-optimal conditions, has scarcely been studied. In the current study, weight-for-age (WAZ), length-for-age (LAZ) and BMI-for-age (BAZ) z-score development was evaluated in children from five different countries (n = 668) who participated in a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial.

METHODS: The children (1-3 years old) were randomized to one of two intervention YCFs (with presence or absence of prebiotics and n-3 LCPUFAs) during 52 weeks of intervention. Additional stratified analyses evaluated the growth patterns of underweight, overweight, or stunted children.

RESULTS: No apparent differences in anthropometric measurements were observed between the intervention groups. In both YCF intervention groups, mean WAZ, LAZ and BAZ development was indicative for an adequate growth during the intervention period. Stratified analyses showed a stable WAZ and BAZ development among children with a healthy weight or overweight at baseline. Among underweight and stunted children normalization in mean weight (⁓1SD) and length (⁓0.8SD) gain, respectively, was observed.

CONCLUSION: The current study suggests that consumption of YCF, either or not containing prebiotics and n-3 LCPUFAs, is associated with adequate growth among young children. This association may depend on the child's baseline nutritional status. Future studies to assess the potential role of YCF in supporting adequate weight/length gain among children at-risk for undernutrition are warranted.

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