This study developed and evaluated infant – feed composite complementary food made from locally available foods which was fed to infants 6-12 months of age. Dried Moringa oleifera leaf was the fortificant. Yellow maize grains were fermented for 48h and oven –dried. Soybean seeds were boiled for 1h, dehulled and oven-dried. Moringa oleifera leaves were shade-dried. All the food materials were milled into fine flours. The proximate, energy, mineral and β-carotene contents of the flours were determined using standard methods. The flours were used to develop 2 blends in ratios of 60:40 (control) and 60:30:10 (test) maize + soybean and maize + soybean + Moringa oleifera leaves respectively. The analysis of the blends were done using standard techniques at 5% confidence level. The blends provided 10% protein. The blends were used to prepare gruels whose sensory evaluation was conducted using 30 mothers. The gruels were fed to 2 groups of infants in the Holy Child Motherless Babies Home in Enugu for 12 weeks. Protein (15. 15% vs 11.36.2%) and carbohydrate (47.15% vs 55.73%) of the blends differed. Ash (3.43% vs 3.08%), fat (30.64% vs 27.2%), crude fiber (3.63% vs 2.74%) and energy (1877 KJ vs 1827KJ) of both blends were comparable. The Iron (8.32mg vs 6.82mg) and zinc contents (4.09mg vs 4.84mg) of the blends were similar. β-carotene (358.15 RE vs 521.28 RE) and calcium (14.6mg vs 829.28mg) of the test blend were higher than that of control blend. The blends had comparable flavor (8.03 vs 7.57) and texture (7.74 vs 7.37). Both blends were accepted well equally (7.97 vs 7.89), however, they differed in colour (8.10 vs 7.10). The body weight of the subjects increased significantly (9.34%) after feeding the test blend. There were slight increases in length (3.69% & 3.66%), head circumference (0.04% & 2.86%) and chest circumference (3661% & 2.81%) after feeding control and test blends, respectively. Serum zinc increased significantly (72.75ųg / 100ml to 148.80ųg / 100ml) in the control group. Haemoglobin (Hb) was higher (12.34% vs 8.96%) in the group fed test blend. Unsaturated iron binding capacity (UIBC) and total iron binding capacity (TIBC) increased much more (25.91% & 32.55%) in the subjects fed control blend. Moringa oliefera fortification of the infant complementary food improved the nutrient quality. Shade-dried Moringa oleifera leaves had good nutrient profile and acceptance in food. Incorporation of pulverized Moringe oleifera leaves in infants’ food could diversity food intake and reduce some micronutrient deficiency diseases.
1.1 Background of the study
The causes of malnutrition are many and complex. Inappropriate breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices coupled with high rates of infectious diseases are the major immediate cause of malnutrition during the first two years of life. Reports show that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is still very low in Nigeria- between 15% and 17%. Children who are not breastfed have repeated infections, experience poor growth and are almost six times more likely to die by the age of one month than children who receive at least some breast milk. From six months onwards, when breast milk alone is no longer sufficient to meet all nutritional requirements, infants enter a particularly vulnerable period of complementary feeding. They make a gradual transition to eating family foods. The incidence of malnutrition rises sharply between this age and 18 months in most countries (UNICEF, 1998; Dewey, 2003; WHO, 2003). The deficits acquired at this age are difficult to compensate for later in childhood. Infants therefore, need nutritionally adequate energy-dense complementary foods in addition to breast milk (NFCNS, 2003; WHO, 2003).
Unfortunately, complementary feeding begins too early or too late, and foods are often nutritionally inadequate and unsafe (WHO, 2002). This results to protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) and micronutrient deficiency (hidden hunger). NFCNS reported very high levels of iron deficiency anemia among infants. Poor absorption of iron, parasitic infestation and disease are equally contributory factors. Often, the traditionally complementary foods consist mainly of porridges made from un-supplemented cereals and starchy food such as sorghum, maize and millet (WHO, 1998). The foods are mostly inadequate in energy, protein and micronutrients (ACC/SCN, 2000; Jarkata, 2005).
To this effect, the formulation and development of nutritious complementary foods from local and readily available foods had received considerable attention in Nigeria (Nnam, 1994; Ifudu & Obizoba, 1989; Obizoba, 1989; Nnam, 1998; Nnam, 2001; Nnam, 2000; Ibeanu & Obizoba, 2004; Nnam, 2002).
Staple foods such as maize, soybean and iron-rich green leafy vegetables e.g. Moringa oleifera (“drum stick” or “Okwe Oyibo”) could be good for the development of good complementary food. The thrust of this study is to develop and determine the nutrient value, and acceptability of maize-based complementary food fortified with Moringa oleifera and access its quality in infants.