Methods: A randomized, double-blind, controlled intervention trial evaluated the effect of nutritional supplementation on the neurocognitive outcomes of 49 HIV-affected school-age children in western Kenya. The intervention consisted in providing the mother, target child, and siblings with one of three isocaloric biscuit-type supplements ‐ soy, wheat, or beef ‐ on 5 days per week for 18 months. Neurocognitive outcomes of the target children were assessed by a battery of eight measures and followed up longitudinally for up to 24 months.
Results: Mixed effects modeling demonstrated significant differences in the rates of increase over time among all three groups (F test degrees of freedom of 2, P<0.05) for Raven’s progressive matrices performance, but not for verbal meaning, arithmetic, digit span backward, forward, and total, embedded figure test, and Beery visual‐motor integration scores.
Conclusion: HIV-affected school-age children provided with soy protein supplementation showed greater improvement in nonverbal cognitive (fluid intelligence) performance compared with peers who received isocaloric beef or wheat biscuits. Soy nutrients may have an enhancing effect on neurocognitive skills in HIV-affected school-age children.