Pregnancy & The Early Years

Emma is an avid writer with numerous publications related to pregnancy nutrition and the early years.  She is the author of Nutrition in the Childbearing Years, published by Wiley-Blackwell and is currently signed up to a London Literacy Agency.

Pregnancy Iron & Childhood Wheeze

It is well known that low iron status in pregnancy can lead to anaemia in the mother and if uncorrected the child.  Now, a new study has looked at the role that iron has to play in relation to childhood wheeze.

Scientists used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), study; a cohort of children born in the 90s.   Information about iron intake, status and child health from 157 mother-child pairs was analysed.

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Main Sodium Sources After Birth

Sodium intakes are high in the United States and this trend starts early in life.  New data from the highly-regarded National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-10) has now looked into which foods and drinks provide most sodium during the first two years of life.

Sodium intakes were lowest in the youngest children but exposures increased gradually with age. With weaning (6 to 11.9 months) commercial baby foods, soups and pasta mixed dishes provided extra sodium.  In the oldest age group cheeses and sausages were some of the main sources of sodium.

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THE NUTRITIONAL PROFILE OF INFANT & TODDLER SNACK PRODUCTS

The infant and toddler snack market is rapidly expanding, with an increased demand for specialist products in this important life-stage. This article, summarising recent analysis by Dr Emma Derbyshire, provides a nutritional evaluation of UK infant and toddler snack foods.

PAEDIATRIC SUPPLEMENT: Table 1: Macronutrient pro le of infant/toddler snack foods (per 100g)

This current analysis evaluates the nutritional profile of 98 snack products currently available in the UK typically found in supermarkets and pharmaceutical stores for this life-stage. Findings showed that fruit-based snacks dominate the market, although some vegetable-based products are beginning to emerge.

Most products (48.5%) had thiamine on their nutrition label yet overlook nutrients where shortfalls are evident (vitamin D, iron). Palm oil was present in over one-third (36%) of products.  This paper highlights that there is still much work to do done in this important and growing sector.

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EARLY YEARS NUTRITION:

AVOIDING A SWEET TOOTH

Our innate preference is for sweeter foods. Breast milk, for example, is naturally sweet. Given this, many foods manufactured for infants and toddlers are sweetened to improve acceptability. This article discusses the role that vegetables can play in counterbalancing the stealth of sweet exposures during the early years. Secondary analysis of UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey Data (years 3 and 4) is included and general recommendations made.

Fruit and vegetable intakes in the early years:

Secondary analysis of data from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (years 3 and 4) shows that fruit intakes are 44, 31 and 35% higher than vegetable intakes for one-, two- and three-year olds.  Repeated exposure (offering the same food continually) is more likely to be needed for vegetables, especially as children get older.

One study recruiting 72 children aged nine to 38 months showed that it took 10 exposures before artichoke intake increased, with little ones eating more of this than traditional veg by the end of the study. Other similar work with 29 preschool children aged 15 to 56 months showed that acceptance of a root vegetable purée took six to eight exposures. Interestingly, adding apple to this did not improve uptake any faster.

There has been much discussion about sugar recently. Secondary analysis of National Diet and Nutrition Survey Data shows that intakes of non-milk extrinsic sugars (NMES) during the early years rise between the ages of one to three years. While NMES are not exactly ‘free sugars’, they are the closest marker we have to date.

Soft drinks, fruit juice, yoghurt, fromage frais, dairy desserts and breakfast cereals were some of the main sources of sweetness,  consumed in some of the highest amounts during the early years.

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