Spirulina as a daily nutritional supplement of young pre-school Cambodian children of deprived settings: a single-blinded, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial.

by Hubert Barennes et al. Pub. in Barennes et al. BMC Pediatrics. (2022) 22:701. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-022-03766-5.

Background: Spirulina (SP) is widely used as a nutritional supplement to enhance child nutrition in low-income countries. We assessed Spirulina’s efficacy of the current dose supplied by institutions in Cambodia on improving growth and anemia in a cross-over randomized controlled trial in preschool underprivileged children from similar settings.
Methods: Preschool children cared by a not-for-profit institution were randomly and blindly allocated (2 to 1) to spir-ulina or placebo: 100 g in total, given in 2 g per day. After 5 weeks of wash-out, participants were crossed-over to the other group. Anthropometric gain and selected hematological data (blood cell count, ferritin, and C-reactive protein) were assessed at each phase.
Results: A total of 179 children completed the trial, 149 (83.2%) completed all the anthropometrics, and 99 (55.3%) all hematological measures. Mean BMI was 14.18 (95%CI: 14.00–14.37) and 31(20.8%) children had thinness. Mean blood hemoglobin was 11.9 g/dL (95%CI: 11.8–12.1). The weight gain of the SP group showed a modest higher trend
compared to placebo (0.63 kg; 95%CI: 0.54–0.72 and 0.46 kg; 95%CI: 0.33–0.58, respectively; p = 0.07). Height increased similarly in both groups. The number of anemic children decreased by 6 (6.06%) and 11 (11.11%) on Placebo or SP, respectively (p = 0.004). Tolerance was good.
Conclusion: SP may be recommended to improve childhood anemia. The analysis of the usual daily dose (2 g) pro-vided by organizations in Cambodia shows a tendency to improve weight gain in the group supplemented with SP very close to significance, but no trend in height. Increased doses and longer supplementation should be evaluated further.