Nutrition in early life and why it matters

Background

The next generation is expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents partly due to the increasing obesity epidemic and related non-communicable diseases. Nutrition during fetal and early neonatal life stages is thought to be an important factor affecting chronic disease risk throughout all stages of life. This task force focuses on how nutrition of both mothers and infants may affect the long-term health of the child.

Upcoming

The task force is working on a new activity proposal to continue their work on early growth aiming to assess how body composition at birth contributes towards the risk of non-communicable disease in adulthood.

What’s New

The expert group on ‘Early Growth Velocity and Risk of Metabolic Disorders Later in Life’ recently completed a final publication on neuro-cognitive and metabolic health outcomes of catch-up growth in small-for-gestational-age infants (E. Castanys-Muñoz et al., 2017).

Objectives

This task force aims to:

  • Provide scientific evidence to support guidelines for maternal and infant nutrition to ensure life-time optimal health; and
  • Identify risk factors for obesity and other health consequences at the earliest stages of life. Realistic and relevant dietary guidelines for expecting and new mothers will maximise good health for their infants throughout all life stages.

Impact

  • The task force assessed the neurocognitive and metabolic outcomes for pre-term and small-for-gestational-age infants that experience a phase of catch-up growth after birth in two separate papers (K.K. Ong et al., 2015; E. Castanys-Muñoz et al., 2017) and highlighted that there are gaps in our knowledge on how to modulate nutrition during this time for the long-term health benefit of infants. The first publication has been cited 15 times to date and the outcome of the manuscripts were featured amongst others at the Federation of European Nutrition Societies (FENS) 2015, Berlin, Germany, in October 2015.
  • The task force is disseminating the outcomes of their work at 4 major conferences in 2017 such as Nutrition and Growth (2-4 March 2017, Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Diabetes in Pregnancy (8-12 March 2017, Barcelona, Spain), IUNS 21st Congress of Nutrition (15-20 October 2017, Buenos Aires, Argentina), and 10th World Congress on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (15-18 October 2017, Amsterdam, The Netherlands).

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Matthieu Flourakis at mflourakis@ilsieurope.be.

Task Force Members


* Scientific Advisor

Expert Groups

Review and Gap Analysis of Factors Affecting Body Composition in Fetal Life, Infancy and Childhood and Association to Long-Term Health’ – New

Background & Objectives
The clinical significance of differences in body composition (fat, bone and muscle) during fetal life, infancy and childhood on long-term health is currently not known.

This activity aims to:

  • review current evidence on the impact of life factors on body composition during infancy and childhood;
  • test for association between body composition at infancy and childhood and long term health outcomes;
  • per form a gap analysis outlining areas where where evidence needs to be generated.

Output
These data will be compiled in peer-reviewed publication with the purpose of informing scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders on knowledge gaps and research directions.

Further, the outcomes will provide insight on critical periods of life where body composition measurement should be included to identify at-risk populations.

Joint Nutrition Cluster Activity on ‘Mechanistic Insights into the Gut-Brain Axis’ – In collaboration with Health Benefits Assessment of Foods;
Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation; Nutrition & Mental Performance; Prebiotics and Probiotics Task ForcesNEW

Background & Objectives
Currently, half of the literature available on the gut-brain axis is state-of-the-art reviews or correlative studies and comprehensive mechanistic insights underlining the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain are lacking.
In this context, several Nutrition Task Forces decided to join forces to understand where we stand today regarding the mechanisms and more specifically to:

  • focus on translational aspects from pre-clinical to clinical studies;
  • focus on lifespan-related changes (but not disease-related) in gut structure and function which play a role in long-term immune and brain health;
  • discuss the nutritional and lifestyle interventions with positive impact on the lifespan gut structure/function and thus on immune and brain health.

Output
A workshop will bring together key experts from different fields of expertise to debate and discuss on the current knowledge and data gaps, followed by a live-streamed debate leading to the publication of a report/position paper. A series of webinars will then be organised to discuss the identified gaps in more details.

Workshop: ‘Health Relevance of Lowering Post-Prandial Glycaemia in Children and Adolescents through Diet’ – In collaboration with the
Dietary Carbohydrates Task Force

Background & Objectives
The workshop is planned for autumn 2020. The main objectives are to:

  • discuss the literature on the impact of lowering post-prandial glycaemic responses on health outcomes in infancy, childhood and adolescence;
  • debate the role of limiting high glycaemic excursions for metabolic disease prevention, with a specific focus on glycaemic control and risk markers related to metabolic disease prevention (Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease);
  • the way by which lower post-prandial glycaemia is obtained will be discussed especially regarding the long term effect.

Output
The outcomes will be published as   to reflect the state of the art in the field.

Early Bacterial Colonization and Potential Implications Later in Life

Background & Objectives

  • Provide insight into the role of microbiota during the early stages of life in programming health and disease.
  • Review potential implications of nutritional interference.

Output
This expert group is developing a series of two manuscripts reviewing existing evidence related to:

  • bacterial colonisation early in life;
  • bacterial transfer from the placenta (first manuscript) and from the mammary gland (second manuscript).

Omega-3 and Omega-6 PUFA Intakes, Ratios and Health Effects
In collaboration with the Nutrient Intake Optimisation Task Force

Impact

  • Intake levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in adults are available. However, information on intake of specific omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA in vulnerable populations is limited or sometimes lacking.
  • Experts have investigated the adequacy of current omega-3 and omega-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 (Sioen et al., 2017).
  • Based on this review, other knowledge gaps are being identified and addressed.

Output
This expert group is developing a series of three manuscripts:

  • the first publication investigated current intake of total and specific omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA in European diets for the identified vulnerable groups (Sioen et al., 2017);
  • the second publication is a systematic review on arachidonic acid and its health effects (Calder et al., 2019);
  • the third manuscript will describe the relevance of omega-3 and omega-6 PUFA intake indexes and ratios as well as comparing them to absolute intake levels.

Early Growth Velocity and Risk of Metabolic Disorders Later in Life – Completed

Expert Group Members

Gestational Diabetes and Diet 

Early Bacterial Colonization and Potential Implications Later in Life

Omega-3 and Omega-6 PUFA Intakes, Ratios and Health Effects

* ‘Indexes and Ratios’ Focus Group Members
** Arachidonic Acid and Health Effects’ Focus Group Members
*  Dr Esther Castanys-Muñoz now works for Abbott Nutrition.
** Former employee of Mead Johnson Nutrition.

Publications

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