Final Summary – PUFA Study Research

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Samples, Surveys, and Smiling Kids!

After lots of hard work and measuring out over a hundred samples of RUTF for kids at clinic, week one of the PUFA acceptability trial is complete!

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The Acceptability Trial

Until I came to Malawi and began working on Professor Ickes’ PUFA study, I had never conducted (or or heard of, for that matter) an acceptability trial. However, over the last couple weeks, with the help of child nutrition researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, I have been brought up to speed on the ins and outs of such trials. And now, I have developed my own to conduct here in Malawi! Here are the specifics on the trial:

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An exciting change of pace: PUFA

Although I came to Malawi with the goal of working on two studies (the ethnographic study I’ve been posting about and the PUFA therapeutic food study), the process on the ethnographic study has been slowed as we continue to wait on ethics board approval here. Simultaneously, the PUFA study has moved ahead and received ethical approval in Malawi! Working in Africa can be unpredictable, so I am just thrilled that one of Prof Ickes’ and my projects can get off the ground.

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Settled into Blantyre: Let the prep work begin!

I’ve had a great first week in Blantyre preparing for my study! In my first few days of working at clinics in Malawi, I have been able to observe some interesting social dynamics related to child feeding and hygiene. As I had expected, most of the children have been brought in by their mothers (and are often breastfeeding throughout the appointment). However, a few children have been brought in by their fathers, which goes against the norms I’d anticipated and have observed. Another interesting factor is that it is currently harvesting season in many parts of Malawi, meaning that mothers have to be in the tea/bean/rice fields to harvest and replant and are unable to bring their children in to clinic. In one case, a granny brought in a child for this reason, but we’ve also counted many children not coming for their appointments for this reason.

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