The 1,000 days between conception and a child’s second birthday have an outsized effect on ongoing health and development. Children that receive insufficient amounts of certain nutrients during this critical window suffer everything from increased risk of some non-communicable diseases through to lifelong deficits in brain function. The far-reaching effects of decisions taken during those early days creates an opportunity for food and nutrition companies to drive big improvements in human health.
Researchers have linked nutrient deficiency in the 1,000 days after conception to health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity that manifest many years later.1 Equally, nutrition during this period is vital to neurological development, which is more active in this narrow window than at any other time of life. Bone health and joint health are also influenced by nutrition at this time.
Healthy development during this period requires more than just sufficient calories. It is also essential that the fetus and infant receive adequate micro and macronutrients including protein, zinc, iron, choline, folate, iodine, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and the A, D, B6 and B12 vitamins. To further complicate matters, the mix of required nutrients is different pre and post-birth and the diets of the mother and father before conception also affect the child’s health and development.
Before conception, folate or folic acid, vitamin D, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 are key nutrients for women. The presence of these key nutrients in the diet before conception has critical consequences, such as reducing the risk of spina bifida.2
During pregnancy, iron, iodine, zinc, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, copper, phosphorus, vitamins A, D, K and B12 and DHA emerge as the key nutrients. These nutrients are linked to a wide range of positive outcomes, including increased birth weight, lower risk of preeclampsia and the avoidance of long-term neurobehavioural damage.3–5
Many of these nutrients remain important after a child is born, either in the diet of the mother as a way to naturally fortify breast milk or given directly to the babies of women who cannot breast feed. Other nutrients, such as the carotenoid lutein, also come into play in post-birth period.
Lutein is the main carotenoid in the infant brain.6 One study linked the use of lutein supplements in breastfeeding women to increased plasma concentrations of the critical carotenoid in their babies.7
Developing targeted nutrient premixes
The increase in knowledge about the critical role certain nutrients play across the first 1,000 days has created new opportunities to achieve long-term improvements in human health. However, the knowledge has also created complexity, revealing that a nuanced, targeted approach to nutrition is needed to ensure mothers and babies get what they need each step of the way.
Recognising the challenge of providing the nutrients that are needed, when they are needed, Prinova has applied its knowledge of infant nutrition to the development of nutrient premixes tailored to the needs of mothers and children during the first 1,000 days.
Prinova has custom premixes containing nutrients such as folic acid, calcium and zinc for use before conception. The product portfolio also features premixes designed to fortify foods with the DHA, magnesium and other nutrients that expectant mothers and their babies need. Prinova continues to support babies after birth with nutrient premixes that fortify follow-on milks and baby foods with the vitamins and minerals decades of scientific research show are essential to healthy development.
Whatever the target population, Prinova works with manufacturers to develop premixes, in both dry and liquid forms, with the right combination of nutrients for specific products. Prinova also helps address solubility issues, supports regulatory and marketing activities and provides premixes in the customer’s preferred batch size and packaging.
At FIE 2019, Prinova is offering demo tours with its technical experts to enable food and nutrition manufacturers to learn more about these services and how the company can meet their need for novel solutions designed to give children the best start in life.
To learn more about infant nutrition during the first 1,000 days and Prinova’s work to improve it, download a technical white paper that sets out what nutrients children need, when they need them and how food and nutrition companies can meet these demands.
1. Schwarzenberg, S. J., Georgieff, M. K. & COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION. Advocacy for Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days to Support Childhood Development and Adult Health. Pediatrics 141, (2018).
2. De-Regil, L. M., Peña-Rosas, J. P., Fernández-Gaxiola, A. C. & Rayco-Solon, P. Effects and safety of periconceptional oral folate supplementation for preventing birth defects. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. CD007950 (2015).
3. Zarean, E. & Tarjan, A. Effect of Magnesium Supplement on Pregnancy Outcomes: A Randomized Control Trial. Adv. Biomed. Res. 6, 109 (2017).
4. Haider, B. A. & Bhutta, Z. A. Multiple-micronutrient supplementation for women during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 4, CD004905 (2017).
5. Georgieff, M. K. Long-term brain and behavioral consequences of early iron deficiency: Nutrition Reviews©, Vol. 69, No. s1. Nutr. Rev. 69, S43–S48 (2011).
6. Vishwanathan, R., Kuchan, M. J., Sen, S. & Johnson, E. J. Lutein and preterm infants with decreased concentrations of brain carotenoids. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 59, 659–665 (2014).
7. Sherry, C. L., Oliver, J. S., Renzi, L. M. & Marriage, B. J. Lutein supplementation increases breast milk and plasma lutein concentrations in lactating women and infant plasma concentrations but does not affect other carotenoids. J. Nutr. 144, 1256–1263 (2014).