Food and Behaviour Research

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Nutrients in child's first 1,000 days key for neurodevelopment

Pediatrics

nutrients for infants

Infant nutrition: The provision of adequate nutrients and healthy eating during a child's first 1,000 days is important for optimal neurodevelopment, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

For details of the underlying research, see:


And for more information on 'nutritional programming' - which refers to the lifelong impact that prenatal and infant nutrition has on gene expression - please see the following list of articles, which is regularly updated:


A huge body of evidence now shows the critical importance to a child's long-term life outcomes of the nutrition and health of the mother - from before conception, throughout pregnancy and into early infancy, when the main period of brain development takes place.

Unfortunately, this issue is still largely ignored by governments worldwide - with huge costs to public health and wider society, let alone the many individuals whose life chances are permanently affected by early life malnutrition.

The provision of adequate nutrients and healthy eating during a child's first 1,000 days is important for optimal neurodevelopment, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement.

Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg, M.D., and Michael K. Georgieff, M.D., from the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, address maternal prenatal nutrition and children's nutrition in the first two years of life (1,000 days) and its long-term impact.

The researchers note that nutritional status during this period may program child and adult health risks, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Calories are essential for fetal and child growth, but are not adequate for normal braindevelopment. Protein, zinc, iron, choline, folate, iodine, vitamins A, D, B6, and B12, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are key nutrients that support neurodevelopment. During the critical period of brain development, failure to provide key nutrients may result in lifelong deficits in brain function, despite subsequent repletion of nutrients. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, and toddlers should be referred to existing services for nutrition support. All providers caring for children should advocate for healthy diets in the first 1,000 days.

"Prioritizing public policies that ensure the provision of adequate nutrients and healthy eating during this crucial time would ensure that all children have an early foundation for optimal neurodevelopment, a key factor in long-term health," the authors write.