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Effectiveness of a social support intervention on infant feeding practices: randomised controlled trial


Background: To assess whether monthly home visits from trained volunteers could improve infant feeding practices at age 12 months, a randomised controlled trial was carried out in two disadvantaged inner city London boroughs.

Methods: Women attending baby clinics with their infants (312) were randomised to receive monthly home visits from trained volunteers over a 9-month period (intervention group) or standard professional care only (control group). The primary outcome was vitamin C intakes from fruit. Secondary outcomes included selected macro and micro-nutrients, infant feeding habits, supine length and weight. Data were collected at baseline when infants were aged approximately 10 weeks, and subsequently when the child was 12 and 18 months old.

Results: Two-hundred and twelve women (68%) completed the trial. At both follow-up points no significant differences were found between the groups for vitamin C intakes from fruit or other nutrients. At first follow-up, however, infants in the intervention group were significantly less likely to be given goats’ or soya milks, and were more likely to have three solid meals per day. At the second follow-up, intervention group children were significantly less likely to be still using a bottle. At both follow-up points, intervention group children also consumed significantly more specific fruit and vegetables.

Conclusions: Home visits from trained volunteers had no significant effect on nutrient intakes but did promote some other recommended infant feeding practices.

Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN55500035

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