Eggs are a good source of nutrients for growth and development. We hypothesized that introducing eggs early during complementary feeding would improve child nutrition.
A randomized controlled trial was conducted in Cotopaxi Province, Ecuador, from March to December 2015. Children ages 6 to 9 months were randomly assigned to treatment (1 egg per day for 6 months [n = 83]) and control (no intervention [n = 80]) groups. Both arms received social marketing messages to encourage participation in the Lulun Project (lulun meaning “egg” in Kichwa). All households were visited once per week to monitor morbidity symptoms, distribute eggs, and monitor egg intakes (for egg group only). Baseline and end point outcome measures included anthropometry, dietary intake frequencies, and morbidity symptoms.
Mothers or other caregivers reported no allergic reactions to the eggs. Generalized linear regression modeling showed the egg intervention increased length-for-age z score by 0.63 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.38–0.88) and weight-for-age z score by 0.61 (95% CI, 0.45–0.77). Log-binomial models with robust Poisson indicated a reduced prevalence of stunting by 47% (prevalence ratio [PR], 0.53; 95% CI, 0.37–0.77) and underweight by 74% (PR, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.10–0.70). Children in the treatment group had higher dietary intakes of eggs (PR, 1.57; 95% CI, 1.28–1.92) and reduced intake of sugar-sweetened foods (PR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.51–0.97) compared with control.
The findings supported our hypothesis that early introduction of eggs significantly improved growth in young children. Generally accessible to vulnerable groups, eggs have the potential to contribute to global targets to reduce stunting.