Optimal maternal nutrition improves infants’ long-term health outcomes
New food range provides maternal nutrition and helps pregnant women meet recommended levels of nutrients for a healthy baby
A range of fortified foods containing nutrients identified as essential during pregnancy and breastfeeding has been launched . Nutrimum muesli and cereal bars contain maternal nutrition in the form of folic acid to help prevent neural tube defects, iron to help support normal blood formation and contribute to the functioning of the immune system, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), omega 3 and iodine for brain development, and vitamin D for the maintenance of bones [2–4]. Although these nutrients have been identified as essential for a healthy child, recent data show that significant numbers of pregnant women are not achieving recommended levels of the aforementioned nutrients .
Charlotte Hemmings, senior medical affairs manager at Nutricia Early Life Nutrition, the creators of Nutrimum bars, said: “Epidemiology studies of hundreds of thousands of people spanning over three decades have shown us that many of the risks leading to the most chronic diseases in adulthood originated during fetal development, infancy and childhood [6–9]. In fact, we now know that only 20% of lifelong health is determined by genes, with the rest a result of environmental influencers .” Hemmings continued: “By ensuring sufficient intake of a number of identified essential nutrients, expectant mothers can positively affect the structure, function and adaptability of an infant’s organs, ensuring the lifelong health of their baby [11,12].”
Recent data shows that just under half of pregnant women won’t make changes to their diet or maternal nutrition levels during their pregnancy , 72% of women do not consume oily fish , a rich source of omega 3, and fewer than half take folic acid during pregnancy . The Department of Health recommends dietary supplements to ensure the need for maternal nutrition of a developing child is met, yet surveys show that one-third of pregnant women  and more than half of breastfeeding mums  fail to do so. Common reasons for not supplementing maternal nutrition include not seeing the need (46%) and maternal nutrition supplements making them feel ill in the past (36%) .
- www.nutrimum.co.uk [accessed January 2015]
- Department of Health. Report on Health and Social Subjects 41. Dietary Reference Values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom. Report of the Panel on Dietary Reference Values of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. London: The Stationery Office. 1991.
- NHS Choices. Why do I need folic acid in pregnancy? 2013. http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/913.aspx?categoryid=54&subcategoryid=129#close [accessed October 2014]
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Advice on fish consumption: benefits and risks. London: The Stationery Office. 2004.
- National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Headline results from years 1, 2 and 3 (combined) of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009-2010/2011). https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-diet-and-nutrition-survey-headline-results-from-years-1-and-2-combined-of-the-rolling-programme-2008-9-2009-10 [accessed: October 2014]
- Barker DJ et al. Type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia (syndrome X): relation to reduced fetal growth. Diabetologia 1993;36:62–67.
- Barker DJ et al. The relation of small head circumference and thinness at birth to death from cardiovascular disease in adult life. BMJ 1993;306:422–426.
- Barker DJ et al. Fetal nutrition and cardiovascular disease in later life. Lancet 1993;341:938-41.
- Bateson P et al. Developmental plasticity and human health. Nature 2004;430:419-21.
- Gluckman P. Article in Medical Tribune: Impact of early-life nutrition on NCD development in adulthood. 2013.
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. The influence of maternal, fetal and child nutrition on the development of chronic disease in later life. London, 2011.
- British Nutrition Foundation Task Force. Nutrition and Development: short and long term consequences for health, 2013.
- Early Nutrition for Later Health: Time to act earlier. Infant & Toddler Forum. 2014.
- OnePoll. Early nutrition surveys of mothers/mothers-to-be and healthcare professionals. August 2014. Data on file.
- Nutricia Early Life Nutrition Market Research. Conducted by Marketing Sciences October 2013.