Explore Nutrition for Healthy Growth of Infants and Children
Poor nutrition in the period from conception to 24 months after birth contributes to 35% of deaths of children < 5 years of age, mainly due to increased mortality from infectious disease (The Lancet’s Maternal and Child Undernutrition Series, 2008). For children who survive, the effects of early undernutrition are long-lasting and largely irreversible and include a substantially higher risk of cognitive impairment and adult-onset chronic disease. A key marker of poor nutrition is unhealthy growth, characteristics of which include intrauterine growth restriction (low birth weight for babies not born prematurely), and wasting (low weight for height) and stunting (low height for age) after birth. Underweight children can be wasted, stunted, or both. Better health outcomes are associated with nutritional strategies that distinguish between these cases, and rather than broadly increasing food energy intake, take a more precise approach, focusing on diet quality and targeting improvements in lean body mass and linear growth. While it is imperative to develop new ways to promote healthy fetal and postnatal growth, there are unanswered scientific questions which hamper progress. For instance, the causes of stunting and intrauterine growth restriction and their links with other health outcomes are not fully understood. Furthermore, the molecular basis for nutritional deficiencies and their functional effects on tissues and organs remain unclear. Also unclear are the details of the critical role played by the human gut and its associated microbiota in both nutrition and immunity in infants and children. The goal of this is to solicit new scientific understanding and new science-based preventative and therapeutic approaches to improve nutrition and promote the healthy growth and development of infants and young children. It is strongly encouraged to investigate the mechanisms of action of nutritional deficiencies and interventions, since this will provide the basis for new strategies to promote healthy growth and will facilitate developing tests to measure nutritional status and to measure treatment outcomes, including discriminating responders from non-responders in population studies.
Sierra Briscoe - https://www.linkedin.com/in/sierrabriscoe/