Early participation in a prenatal food supplementation program ameliorates the negative association of food insecurity with quality of maternal-infant interaction

Amy L. Frith, Ithaca College
Ruchira T. Naved, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh
Lars Ake Persson, Uppsala Universitet
Kathleen M. Rasmussen, Cornell University
Edward A. Frongillo, University of South Carolina


Food insecurity is detrimental to child development, yet little is known about the combined influence of food insecurity and nutritional interventions on child development in low-income countries. We proposed that women assigned to an early invitation time to start a prenatal food supplementation program could reduce the negative influence of food insecurity on maternal-infant interaction. A cohort of 180 mother-infant dyads were studied (born between May and October 2003) from among 3267 in the randomized controlled trial Maternal Infant Nutritional Interventions Matlab, which was conducted in Matlab, Bangladesh. At 8wk gestation,women were randomly assigned an invitation time to start receiving food supplements (2.5 MJ/d; 6 d/wk) either early (;9 wk gestation; early-invitation group) or at the usual start time (;20 wk gestation; usualinvitation group) for the government program. Maternal-infant interaction was observed in homes with the use of the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training Feeding Scale, and food-insecurity status was obtained from questionnaires completed when infants were 3.4-4.0 mo old. By using a general linear model for maternal-infant interaction, we found a significant interaction (P = 0.012) between invitation time to start a prenatal food supplementation program and food insecurity. Those in the usual-invitation group with higher food insecurity scores (i.e., more food insecure) had a lower quality of maternal-infant interaction, but this relationship was ameliorated among those in the early-invitation group. Food insecurity limits the ability of mothers and infants to interact well, but an early invitation time to start a prenatal food supplementation program can support mother-infant interaction among those who are food insecure. © 2012 American Society for Nutrition.