The importance of parents’ diet and lifestyle prior to conception

The authors of three papers published in The Lancet argue that parents’ diet and health may impact on the health of the child long before conception.  
Academics at the University of Leeds are among the authors of the papers.
Janet Cade, Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology and Public Health at Leeds, said: “Our work shows that many non-pregnant women may not be best prepared nutritionally for pregnancy with low intakes of fruit and vegetables, some key vitamins and minerals and high rates of overweight/obesity.

“Improved support and practical tools are needed to help people understand how, even before a woman becomes pregnant that parental lifestyle including weight and diet can influence the health of their children.” (via University of Leeds)
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They recommend interventions which begin in adolescence to support young people prepare for potential parenthood. In young adults this could engage them to think about healthy lifestyles and the impact of this in later life, during pregnancy and for future generations. Equally, for those with no plans to become a parent, they call for improved public awareness of preconception health. For adults planning a pregnancy the authors emphasise a need for improved support and practical tools to aid preconception health.

Executive Summary

Health and nutrition of both men and women before conception is important not only for pregnancy outcomes but also for the lifelong health of their children and even the next generation. The preconception period can be seen in three different ways: from a biological standpoint as the days and weeks before embryo development; from the individual perspective as the time of wanting to conceive; and through a population lens as any time a women is of childbearing age. This Series of three papers highlights the importance and summarises the evidence of preconception health for future health and suggests context-specific interventions. It also calls for a social movement to achieve political engagement for health in this particular phase in life. (From The Lancet)

Click on the title of each article to read its summary

Before the beginning: nutrition and lifestyle in the preconception period and its importance for future health

Intervention strategies to improve nutrition and health behaviours before conception

Origins of lifetime health around the time of conception: causes and consequence

The articles can be requested by Rotherham NHS staff here

 

Folic acid may mitigate autism risk from pesticides

Researchers at UC Davis and other institutions have shown that mothers who take recommended amounts of folic acid around conception might reduce their children’s pesticide-related autism risk | ScienceDaily

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Image source: FedEx – Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In the paper, which used data from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study, researchers looked at 296 children between 2 and 5 who had been diagnosed with ASD and 220 who had developed typically. Mothers were interviewed about their household pesticide exposure during pregnancy, as well as their folic acid and B vitamin intake. The team also linked data from California Pesticide Use reports, which provide important details about agricultural spraying, with the mothers’ addresses.

Mothers who took less than 800 micrograms and encountered household pesticides had a much higher estimated risk of having a child who developed an ASD than moms who took 800 micrograms of folic acid or more and were not exposed to pesticides. The associated risk increased for women exposed repeatedly. Women with low folic acid intake who were exposed to agricultural pesticides during a window from three months before conception to three months afterward also were at higher estimated risk.

Child under nutrition project: A report about the current undernourishment of children in England

Patients Association, July 2017

Child NutritionThe Patients Association has issued a report suggesting that under-nutrition among children is not confined to the developing world, but is a problem in Britain today.

The project was undertaken by the Patients Association and funded by a non-restricted education grant from Abbott. A cross-section of health and care staff in four sites – Bradford, Cornwall, Tower Hamlets and Birmingham – were interviewed. Parents were also interviewed in Bradford and Cornwall.

The findings reveal examples of positive efforts in working with children and families across agencies, particularly by public health teams, community and acute health staff; but many are overstretched and unable to meet demand for the types of information and guidance that people need. The report’s recommendations include:

Awareness of under-nutrition should be raised among both professionals and the public
New and existing training and guidance for professionals should include the identification and treatment of under-nutrition
National guidance and a care pathway should be developed specifically for undernutrition.

Child under nutrition project

A report about the current undernourishment of children in England | Patients Association

The project was undertaken by the Patients Association and funded by a non-restricted education grant from Abbott. A cross-section of health and care staff in four sites – Bradford, Cornwall, Tower Hamlets and Birmingham – were interviewed. Parents were also interviewed in Bradford and Cornwall.

The findings reveal examples of positive efforts in working with children and families across agencies, particularly by public health teams, community and acute health staff; but many are overstretched and unable to meet demand for the types of information and guidance that people need. The report’s recommendations include:

  • Awareness of under-nutrition should be raised among both professionals and the public
  • New and existing training and guidance for professionals should include the identification and treatment of under-nutrition
  • National guidance and a care pathway should be developed specifically for undernutrition.

The full report is available here

‘Eating for two’ pregnancy myth

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The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has highlighted the publication of a survey, to understand women’s perceptions of how much they should eat during pregnancy.

The survey, commissioned by the National Charity Partnership, a partnership between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco, found 69 per cent of women are unaware of how many extra calories they need to consume during pregnancy. 63 per cent report feeling under pressure from others to eat larger meals than normal with 14 per cent of pregnant respondents saying that this pressure is constant.

The RCOG is working with the National Charity Partnership to bust the ’eating for two’ myth and make it easier for people to understand how to make healthy choices during pregnancy to avoid unhealthy weight gain.

Read more via RCOG

 

 

Oral nutritional supplementation: a user’s guide

Oral nutritional supplements (ONS) are substances taken by mouth as an addition to the child’s usual diet | Paediatrics and Child Health

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They can benefit a child who does not manage to ingest and absorb sufficient nutrients to grow and develop in the usual way. ONS can be used in the management of a wide range of medical conditions such as neurodevelopmental disorders with associated dysphagia, intestinal inflammatory disorders e.g. Crohn’s disease and non-IgE slow onset food allergies (when a protein hydrolysate or amino-acid based ONS is usually needed) major organ failure or in areas of food insecurity to avoid starvation. Appropriate use at the earliest opportunity may preclude or postpone the need to insert an artificial feeding device. Once on treatment children need to be reviewed at least 6-monthly by a dietitian as well as a paediatrician.

Full reference: Hill, S.M. (2017) Oral nutritional supplementation: a user’s guide. Paediatrics and Child Health. Published online: 5th July 2017

Cochrane reviews show impact of lifestyle changes on obesity

Two Cochrane reviews, published today, show that a combination of diet, physical activity and behavioural change interventions may reduce weight in children and adolescents | OnMedica

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The two reviews look at the effects of diet, physical activity and behavioural interventions in treating children with overweight or obesity from six years old to early adulthood. They summarise the results of 114 studies which involved over 13,000 children and young people.