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DSM highlights the power of maternal nutrition at DOHaD

Kaiseraugst, CH, 20 Nov 2015 10:15 CET

DSM Nutritional Products hosted a special event alongside the 9th Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) World Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. The event highlighted the prominent role nutrition-related solutions play in addressing key global health concerns in developing infants, and how these solutions also help to ensure a better quality of life. Lectures by three leading scientists outlined micronutrient requirements necessary during the first 1,000 days of an infant’s development, this period being the time between the start of pregnancy and the child’s second birthday.

The first presentation, hosted by Professor Keith West, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, highlighted that the quality of nutrition in the first 1,000 days can greatly impact a child’s ability to grow and learn1. Research indicates that children with adequate nutrition are ten times more likely to avoid life-threatening childhood diseases2. In the long-term, these children are also more likely to have healthier families of their own, be more productive, and incur lower healthcare costs3,4.

The second session focused on the importance of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) and how they can affect a child’s long-term body composition and health. Henkjan Verkade, Professor of Pediatrics at the University Medical Center, Groningen, Netherlands commented: “Before birth, the foetus gets its nutrients from its mother’s diet. Therefore healthcare professionals strongly advise to guarantee sufficient LCPUFA levels, if needed through supplementation. After birth, the best way to optimize a child’s LCPUFA is through breast milk and making sure that the lactating mother has adequate LCPUFA intake via diet or supplements.”

The third discussion summarized evidence that low birth weight is generally associated with poor kidney development and an increased risk of hypertension, which is a main risk factor of cardiovascular disease later in life. Professor Weiguo Zhang, Director of Nutrition Science & Advocacy of DSM Nutritional Products, Human Nutrition and Health, Greater China said: “Birth weight and preterm birth are impacted by environmental and genetic factors. However, having an adequate maternal status of micronutrients and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can help decrease the risk of prematurity and increase birth weight.”

Studies demonstrate that there is still widespread micronutrient deficiency in pregnant women in South East Asia especially in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, in minerals such as iron and zinc and in omega-3s. Maternal micronutrient supplementation leads to healthier gestation with extended gestational age, reduced preterm birth, and reduced low birth weight. These findings support multi-micronutrient use as a standard of care during pregnancy5. Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice President, Nutrition Science & Advocacy at DSM and Professor for Healthy Ageing at Groningen University concluded: “Malnutrition is still a prime cause of death and illness of young children across the world. Food fortification and dietary supplements are an effective and safe source of micronutrients to fill the maternal nutritional gap, leading to healthier infants. Where healthy nutrition is not available, the use of food fortification and dietary supplements is beneficial. Our mission is to help continue educating women of child bearing age and health care professionals about the benefits of fortified foods and inform food manufacturers about the opportunities for fortifying the diet.”

Vitamins in Motion

Vitamins play an essential role for health, wellness and disease prevention throughout the lifecycle. They are key to solving our global nutritional challenges. DSM, a global leader in health and nutrition science, is leading an initiative - Vitamins in Motion - to highlight the important role of vitamins. The campaign advocates for increased access, through innovative solutions, to the essential vitamins all people need to be healthy and well-nourished. To learn more, visit www.vitaminsinmotion.com.

1) Bhutta ZA, Das JK, Rizvi A, et al ‘Evidence-based interventions for improvement of maternal and child nutrition: what can be done and at what cost?’; Lancet, 2013.
2) Christian P, Lee SE, Donahue Angel M, et al ‘Risk of childhood undernutrition related to small-for-gestational age and preterm birth in low- and middle-income countries’; Int J Epidemiol., 2013. www.thousanddays.org
3) Ibid
4) Hoddinott J, et al ‘Adult consequences of growth failure in early childhood’; Risk of childhood undernutrition related to small-for-gestational age and preterm birth in low- and middle-income countries’; Int J Epidemiol., 2013. www.thousanddays.org
5) Christian P, Lee SE, Donahue Angel M, et al ‘Risk of childhood undernutrition related to small-for-gestational age and preterm birth in low- and middle-income countries’; Int J Epidemiol., 2013. www.thousanddays.org

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