Caring for the next generation by reviewing and disseminating scientific evidence for the importance of early life nutrition on long-term health

Background

The next generation is expected to have a shorter life expectancy partly due to the obesity epidemic and related non-communicable diseases. Nutrition during fetal and early neonatal life stages is thought to affect chronic disease risk throughout all stages of life. The Early Nutrition and Long-Term Health Task Force particularly focuses on how nutrition of both mothers and their infants may affect long-term health of the child.

Objectives

This task force aims (1) to provide scientific evidence to support guidelines for maternal and infant nutrition to ensure life-time optimal health; and (2) to identify risk factors for obesity and other health consequences at the earliest stages of life.

Impact

The impact of postnatal weight gain or head growth of infants has been assessed with regard to neurocognitive outcomes, later adiposity and other cardiovascular risk factors in pre-term infants (K.K. Ong et al., 2015).

Key factors during perinatal period contributing to obesity in children have been identified and recommendations have been published on how to improve the design of mother-child studies as well as maximise the use of existing data by encouraging greater collaboration among research teams (M.E. Symonds et al., 2013).

What’s New

  • The task force is building upon their work on PUFA intakes by investigating health effects of PUFAs and the importance of ratios and indexes.
  • The findings of the Gestational Diabetes and Diet Expert Group will be presented at the Diabetes in Pregnancy Conference in Barcelona, Spain, in 2017.

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Bettina Schelkle at bschelkle@ilsieurope.be.

Task Force Members

Prof. Stewart Forsyth – Chair DSM UK
Dr Marieke H. Schoemaker – Vice-Chair Mead Johnson Nutrition NL
Dr Susan Ozanne – Co-Chair University of Cambridge UK
Dr Eurídice Castañeda Gutiérrez Nestlé UK
Dr Merete Lindberg Hartvigsen Arla Foods DK
Dr Ricardo Rueda Abbott Nutrition ES
Prof. Eline van der Beek Danone NL
Dr Carolien van Loo-Bouwman Yili Innovation Center Europe NL
Dr Bettina Schelkle ILSI Europe BE

 

Expert Groups

Gestational Diabetes and Diet 

In collaboration with the Obesity and Diabetes Task Force

Objectives

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as a glucose intolerance (of any degree), which occurs during pregnancy (Metzger et al., 1998). It is estimated that 2-6% of pregnancies in Europe result in GDM and the numbers are much higher in Asia. High maternal weight is associated with a higher risk of GDM. Nutritional advice on GDM aims to control postprandial glucose levels and to provide adequate nutrition for the developing foetus. But as yet, there is still no consensus on the optimal nutritional recommendations for GDM management. The overall aim will be to provide a clear, comprehensive and critical overview of the current knowledge on treatment of GDM via diet.

Activity

This activity will assess state-of-the-art nutritional management of GDM by means of a literature review. Treatment goals will be considered regarding optimal macronutrient distribution, micronutrient intake, energy balance, weight gain, use of supplements and functional foods (i.e. pre- or probiotics), carbohydrate quality and use of (low calorie) sweeteners, as well as glycaemic index and glycaemic load. Moreover, the activity will identify limitations and gaps in the existing literature.

Expected Output

This activity will assess state-of-the-art nutritional management of GDM by means of a literature review. Treatment goals will be considered regarding optimal macronutrient distribution, micronutrient intake, energy balance, weight gain, the use of supplements and functional foods (i.e. pre- or probiotics), carbohydrate quality and the use of (low calorie) sweeteners, as well as glycaemic index and glycaemic load. Moreover, the activity will identify limitations and gaps in the existing literature.

Early Bacterial Colonization and Potential Implications Later in Life

Objectives

This activity aims to provide insight into the role of microbiota during the early stages of life in programming health and disease. A second aim is to review potential implications of nutritional interference on early bacterial colonisation derived from the existing evidence.

The main objectives will be:

  • To review existing evidence related to bacterial colonisation early in life (mammary gland and placental microbiota);
  • To elucidate potential benefits of nutritional mediation of metabolic, immunological and cognitive outcomes through the modulation of microbiota.

Activity

The experts will perform a critical analysis of the existing evidence of bacterial colonisation early in life, potential pathways, influence on gestational age, mode of delivery and potential health implications later in life, especially related to inflammatory conditions. They will examine the evidence available on how bacterial colonisation can be impacted by nutrition and whether this intervention has potential implications for future developments on maternal and infant nutrition. Further, the group will identify research knowledge gaps, especially related to programming of functional outcomes, and will define what types of studies are needed in the near future.

Expected Outcome

The aim is to publish up to two review papers that compile all aspects related to bacterial colonisation early in life (from placenta and mammary gland) and the potential benefits of nutritional mediation. Identification of research gaps and new types of studies needed will be a key part of the activity. The results are expected to provide information for future nutritional strategies for pregnant women and infants to improve early programming outcomes.

Adequacies of n-3 and n-6 PUFAs Intakes in European Countries in Light of the Current Recommendations. Do Differences in Intake relate to Different Health Outcomes?

In collaboration with the Nutrient Intake Optimisation Task Force

Objectives

Intake levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in adults are available but information on intake of specific n-3 and n-6 PUFA in vulnerable populations is limited or sometimes lacking. This activity has investigated the adequacy of current n-3 and n-6 PUFA intake in several vulnerable target groups, namely infants, children, adolescents, pregnant/lactating women and the elderly by comparing intake data with current recommendations.

Activity

This expert group is developing a series of three manuscripts. In the first publication, the expert group investigated current intake of total and specific n-3 and n-6 PUFA in European diets for the identified vulnerable groups. Along with this, the latest nutritional recommendations and their scientific criteria were examined. In addition, it assessed how different food forms and supplements can contribute to the intake of n-3 and n-6 PUFA. In the second publication, the intention is to describe the relevance of n-3 and n-6 PUFA intake indexes and ratios and to compare them to absolute intake levels. In the third manuscript, a systematic review will be performed on n-3 and n-6 and various health effects, specifically focusing on arachidonic acid.

Expected Output

Ultimately, the project will analyse and evaluate n-3 and n-6 PUFA intake, highlighting any remaining knowledge gaps. Manuscripts 2 and 3 will tackle important identified knowledge gaps related to health effects of arachidonic acid and the relevance of n-3 and n-6 PUFA intake ratios versus absolute amounts. Actions will be proposed where serious gaps between nutrient intake and recommendations are identified.

Early Growth Velocity and Risk of Metabolic Disorders Later in Life

PHASE I – Completed

Objectives

Infants who have suffered a period of under-nutrition tend to compensate and grow rapidly once their nutritional conditions improve. Rapid growth early in life may increase the risk of chronic diseases later in life. Experts identified patterns of growth associated with disease risk.

Activity

In the first phase, the activity evaluated the influence of growth velocity on metabolic imprinting, and identified the feeding patterns, biomarkers and other nutritional factors associated with this accelerated growth in pre-term infants.

Expected output

The expert group characterised the association between growth and later health. It provides recommendations for future clinical studies working on growth rates as well as guidance on how to assess the role of nutrition in human studies. The paper was published in the journal Acta Paediactrica (K.K. Ong et al., 2015).

PHASE II

Objectives

In the second phase, the expert group intends to focus on reviewing ‘Early Growth of Term SGA (Small for Gestational Age) Infants and Their Later Metabolic and Cognitive Outcomes’. The aim is to review the influence of growth velocity in metabolic programming and imprinting, and to identify the feeding patterns, biomarkers and other nutritional factors associated with this accelerated growth.

Activity

The current Phase II activity identifies knowledge gaps and patterns of growth that are associated with risk of disease for SGA infants.

Expected outcome

The experts are preparing a second review which focuses on growth velocity in term SGA infants that will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. The results will be used as a basis for developing nutritional strategies directed towards improving health of infants suffering with intra-uterine growth restriction and growth stunting, so preventing the development of chronic diseases in later life.

Expert Group Members

Gestational Diabetes and Diet 

Prof. Helen Murphy – Chair University of East Anglia UK
Dr Eline Van Der Beek – Vice-Chair Danone Nutriticia Research NL
Dr Eurídice Castañeda Gutiérrez Nestlé CH
Prof. Rosa Corcoy Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona ES
Dr Eran Hadar Tel-Aviv University IL
Prof. Seppo Heinonen University of Helsinki FI
Prof. Jeya Henry University of Singapore SG
Prof. Moshe Hod Tel-Aviv University IL
Ms Joanne Kellett University of East Anglia UK
Prof. Kirsi Laitinen University of Turku FI
Prof. Sjurdur F. Olson Danish Centre for Fetal Programming DK
Dr Ana Piekarz The Coca-Cola Company BE
Prof. Lucilla Poston King’s College London UK
Dr Ricardo Rueda Abbott Nutrition ES
Prof. Petra Rust University of Vienna AT
Ms Lilou van Lieshout ILSI Europe BE
Dr Bettina Schelkle ILSI Europe BE

Early Bacterial Colonization and Potential Implications Later in Life

Prof. Christine Edwards – Chair University of Glasgow UK
Dr Ricardo Rueda – Vice-Chair Abbott Nutrition ES
Dr Clara Belzer Wageningen University NL
Prof. Angel Gil University of Granada ES
Ms Vittoria Marinello University of Glasgow UK
Prof. Susan Ozanne University of Cambridge UK
Dr Marieke H. Schoemaker Mead Johnson Nutrition NL
Prof. Catherine Stanton Teagasc IE
Prof. Eline van der Beek Danone NL
Dr Carolien van Loo-Bouwman Yili Innovation Center Europe NL
Dr Bettina Schelkle ILSI Europe BE

Adequacies of n-3 and n-6 PUFAs Intakes in European Countries in Light of the Current Recommendations. Do Differences in Intake relate to Different Health Outcomes?

Prof. Cristina Campoy – Chair University of Granada ES
Prof. Ronald Mensink – Vice-Chair Maastricht University NL
Dr Wendy Blom* Unilever NL
Prof. Philip Calder University of Southampton UK
Dr Ans Eilander* Unilever NL
Dr Mathilde Fleith Nestlé CH
Prof. Stewart Forsyth DSM UK
Dr Frøydis Hisdal BASF SE NO
Dr Szimonetta Lohner Pécs University HU
Dr Isabelle Sioen Ghent University BE
Dr Bert van de Heijning Danone NL
Ms. Lilou van Lieshout ILSI Europe BE

*Dr Blom is only involved in Manuscript 2 and Dr Eilander only in Manuscript 3.

Early Growth Velocity and Risk of Metabolic Disorders Later in Life

Dr Ken Ong – Chair University of Cambridge UK
Dr Euridice Castañeda Gutiérrez – Vice-Chair Nestlé CH
Dr Esther Castanys-Muñoz* Abbot Nutrition ES
Prof. Stewart Forsyth DSM UK
Prof. Keith Godfrey University of Southampton UK
Ms Kathy Kennedy UCL Institute of Child Health BE
Prof. Berthold Koletzko University of Munich DE
Dr Ricardo Rueda Abbott Nutrition ES
Dr Marieke H. Schoemaker Mead Johnson Nutrition NL
Dr Stef van Buuren University of Utrecht NL
Prof. Eline van der Beek Danone NL
Dr Bettina Schelkle ILSI Europe BE

*Dr Esther Castanys-Muñoz now works for Abbott Nutrition.

Publications

All Publications

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