Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Poor maternal and infant nutrition can cause long-term health consequences regardless of later nutritional intervention

A landmark series of research papers on maternal and child undernutrition published in the leading international medical journal The Lancet early this month shows that children will suffer irreversible damage into their adult life if proper nutrition interventions are not delivered before the age of 24 months, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, who specialises in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy.

The below summaries a talk given by Professor Caroline Fall, Medical Research Council Epidemiology Resource Centre, University of Southampton, UK.

The following factors can lead to irreversible damage to a child’s health and economic prosperity, even if nutrition is improved at a later stage:
§ An undernourished mother (during pregnancy);
§ Low birth weight baby (classified as less than 5.5lb); and a
§ Undernourished infant

The consequences of the above lead to:
§ Reduced adult height, which in term reduces muscle mass (and therefore reduces the possibility of doing as much physical work or possibly sport)
§ Poorer school achievement by a year or more
- attributed to failure for brain development in very early life and undernutrition
§ Lower school attainment can then lead to lower income in later life and a lower quality of life
§ Poorer life-long health (excluding cancer, but including heart disease, diabetes, lung function, bone health and cognitive function and health)

“All of this has a knock on effect on the next generation with low-birth weight mothers more likely to give birth to low birth weight children”, which perpetuates the cycle say Professor Caroline Fall.

While malnutrition is most widespread in developing countries, according to National Report on Follow-up to the World Summit for Children, 2000, 8% of all children born in the UK have a low birth rate. This equates to around 50,000 live births each year. Consequently, early nutritional intervention in the UK will also have a profound effect on health and quality of life.

To find out more about Nutritional support during or before your pregnancy, contact UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown Dip.ION (mBANT), specialist in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy care in the city of London, EC2. I have also written a free e-book on how you can improve your diet during your pregnancy, which can be obtained by clicking on my link.