The best start for baby? Experts say trim down BEFORE you conceive
Men and women are being urged to trim down even before they conceive a child according to new research on what to eat during pregnancy and early life nutrition.
The early life nutrition recommendations developed by six Australian and New Zealand experts are designed to prevent childhood obesity and allergies.
Nutrition is vital even before conception
The experts claim the right diet in the first 1,000 days of pregnancy (including 3 months before conception and the first three years of a child’s life) have a profound impact on the child’s health.
“Most women know what not to eat during pregnancy, but not enough parents recognise the things they can do to reduce their child’s risk of disease later in life,” said University Sydney’s paediatric specialist Professor John Sinn.
Under the plan men and women are urged to lose weight before they conceive and take iodine and folate supplements.
Almost two out of three women of child bearing age are obese or overweight and this increases their chance of gestational diabetes and of their child growing up overweight.
Once pregnant, women are urged to ensure they don’t gain more than 9-18 kilograms in weight (only thinner women can gain 18 kilograms).
“Planning, expectant and current parents should be informed of the significant role of good early life nutrition in ensuring the long-term health of their children,” Professor Sinn said.
However, they should not diet while pregnant because studies show the offspring of women who were pregnant during a famine become obese later in life, the experts warn.
So, what are the early life nutrition recommendations?
- Pregnant women should continue taking iodine and folic acid supplements and eat oily fish like salmon or tuna several times a week.
- To prevent allergies in their children they are advised not to avoid peanuts or other allergens unless they have an allergy themselves.
- The experts warn high protein diets (over 20% of total energy) should be avoided during pregnancy as they may lead to increased birth weight.
- Women should aim for 8.5 serves of breads and cereals each day and have a fat intake of no more than 20-35 per cent of their total energy intake.
- Excessive weight gain in the first half of the pregnancy should also be avoided because it leads to babies with higher birth weight and body fat.
- Once their baby is born women are advised to breast feed for as long as possible and introduce solid foods once their baby is aged 17 weeks to help combat the development of allergies.
- They should feed their toddlers full cream milk only after 12 months of age but offer a wide variety of nutritious foods while limiting sugar sweetened and fruit juice drinks and added salt, sugar and excess saturated fat.
The first three years of child’s life programs the child’s food preferences for later in life, the study says.
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This article was written by Sue Dunlevy for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz
Kidspot is dedicated to the promotion of breastfeeding as the best possible start in life for babies as well as being good for the health and wellbeing of mothers.
The World Health Organization recommends that infants start breastfeeding within one hour of life, are exclusively breastfed for six months, with timely introduction of adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond. Source: http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/infantfeeding/en/
Breastfeeding provides babies with the best nutrition and is preferred whenever possible. Good maternal nutrition is ideal for breastfeeding. You should be aware that reversing a decision not to breastfeed may prove difficult. Partially introducing formula could negatively affect your milk supply. Social and financial implications should be considered when selecting a method of feeding. Professional advice should be followed before using an infant formula. Proper use of an infant formula is important to the health of the infant and should only be used as directed.
If you’re worried about breastfeeding, your Well Child nurse or PlunketLine can help.