Malawi College of Medicine (CoM) has released findings of a Mazira Project, a study the college undertook in Mangochi to evaluate the impact of eggs on child growth and development in rural Malawi.
The Mazira Project Coordinator, Raphael Chipatala disclosed at a district stakeholders meeting on Friday the study findings had revealed that children who received an egg per day did not grow better in height or weight than children who did not receive eggs.
He added that the study did not see any impact or benefit of the eggs on children’s language, motor, personal-social or memory development.
On a positive note, Chipatala said the study revealed that the growth in head size was better in children who ate the eggs on daily basis than those who did not during the study period.
He added that children in the eggs-group had higher intakes of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B12, chlorine and selenium for which eggs are a good source.
However, he observed that there were some elements in the study area which might have affected the results. According to Chipatala, a similar study drew different results in Ecuador.
“In a previous study we found that providing eggs to children in Ecuador improved their growth.
“…In our study in Mangochi, children in both groups frequently ate fish which is highly available in the study area along Lake Malawi, and we feel that this may have reduced the amount of benefit from eating the eggs,” Chipatala explained.
The Mazira Study enrolled 660 mothers and their 6 – 9-month-old children in all villages in the catchment areas of Lungwena Rural Health Centre and St Martin Hospital at Malindi in a study period of six months.
Among the participating children, 331 were under the intervention while 329 were under the ‘control’ category.
The children under the intervention were given one egg per day but all the 660 households were visited by the study staff twice per week.
“We measured the growth and development of each child when they joined the study and again after six months.
“Our tests included measurement of length, weight, arm size and head size, blood tests for anemia, malaria and nutrient levels among other things,” Chipatala explained.
Stakeholders in Mangochi found the study findings interesting but they suggested taking the study to other areas where fish was not in abundance to see whether the findings would be different.
Following the study findings, Chipatala said the next steps would be to examine factors such as diet, health or household characteristics to learn why some children grow better when given eggs while others do not.
He said the study also calls for investigating possible reasons why egg consumption, on average, did not result in better height growth or child development in the study areas.
Results of the study, according to Chipatala, needed to be used to look for other ways to help Malawian children grow and develop to their full potential.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the Mazira Study which aimed at evaluating the impact of eggs on child growth and development in rural Malawi.