The Saqmolo’ Project in Guatemala

The Saqmolo’ Project in Guatemala

Background on The Saqmolo’ Project

Approximately 150 million children—or roughly one-quarter of all the children in the world—are “stunted,” or too short for their age. This has a detrimental impact on their cognitive development and ability to grow into functional adults. These children are more likely to have issues such as vocabulary deficits and deficiencies in school performance.

Worse, 20% of children are underweight, which means they have a 5X to 8X greater risk of dying compared to well-nourished children. In fact, undernutrition is responsible for 2.2 million deaths annually among children less than 5 years of age.

However, there is a nutritious food that has been suggested to counter malnutrition, stunting, and cognitive impairment—eggs. Eggs contain high-quality protein, as well as all of the micronutrients that the American Academy of Pediatrics deems as “critical for brain development during the first 1000 days of life.”

Saqmolo'

However, there is a nutritious food that has been suggested to counter malnutrition, stunting, and cognitive impairment—eggs. Eggs contain high-quality protein, as well as all of the micronutrients that the American Academy of Pediatrics deems as “critical for brain development during the first 1000 days of life.”

Eggs are also a primary source of an essential nutrient called choline; choline is critical for how our brain and other cells throughout the body communicate with one another. Our former research shows choline is under-consumed by about 90% of Americans (and 92% of pregnant women) even when they have access to the right foods.

Saqmolo'

The Saqmolo’ Project is a randomized, controlled trial with a parallel design that will explore what happens when just one egg per day is added to the diet of 1,200 malnourished indigenous Maya infants in Guatemala. This is one of the poorest communities in the Western hemisphere, and as a result, more than 70% of children are stunted. (The name “saqmolo’,” means “egg” in the indigenous Mayan language known as Kaqchikel.)

In partnership with the Wuqu’ Kawoq-Maya Health Alliance, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, and the University of New Mexico, we are currently assessing the effects of this intervention on cognitive development, growth, diet diversity, and more.

Publications

The Saqmolo’ Project – Rationale and Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial Examining Impact of Daily Complementary Feeding of Eggs on Infant Development and Growth in Guatemala (COMING SOON)
2020. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Funding for this The Saqmolo’ Project was provided through an unrestricted educational grant from the Egg Nutrition Center.

We are currently seeking additional funding for ancillary research on the infant microbiome and nutritional content of maternal breast milk.

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