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Infant Cereals sold in Lower-Income Countries lack consistency in their Nutritional content: Global Analysis

The findings suggest that there is a need for basic quality assurance services to improve nutritional consistency and healthy growth of infants from 6 to 24 months age

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New York, Jan 1, 2017 – Premixed complementary foods sold in lower-income countries lack consistency in their nutritional content, a global analysis of infant cereals has revealed.

The findings suggest that there is a need for basic quality assurance services to improve nutritional consistency and healthy growth of infants from 6 to 24 months age.

Premixed infant cereals or complementary foods can be a vital source of the solid food needed for healthy child growth after the age of six months, when infants outgrow the nutrients provided by breast milk alone.

This conclusion was reached after researchers from Tufts University in the US analysed 108 commercially available premixed complementary foods from 22 low-and-middle-income countries.

The findings, published in the journal Maternal and Child Nutrition, said premixed complementary foods can be extremely effective at protecting infants against malnutrition and stunted growth.

“In countries where we sampled, some products can readily meet children’s needs, but others fall far below requirements for both macro and micro-nutrients,” said William Masters from Tufts University.

“Our results are a call to action for establishing and enforcing nutritional quality standards, which would help ensure access to lower-cost, higher-quality products and enable parents to meet their infants’ needs more easily,” he added.

Researchers said that childhood malnutrition was the main cause of stunted growth, that may lead to delayed mental development and poor school performance — a serious and irreversible condition that affects individuals with greater risk for illness and death throughout their lives.

According to Unicef, nearly half of all deaths in children under age five are related to undernutrition, which is particularly widespread in Africa and Asia.

“A healthy child consuming breast milk alongside the average sampled complementary food would experience zinc and iron deficiency from six to nine months, and dietary fat deficiency at 12 months,” the study said.

The study noted that nutritional content claims on packaging labels did not meet their reported caloric content.

“Slightly more than half of the products misreported protein, and two thirds misreported fat content. For zinc and iron, products exceeded labelled values about as often as they fell short,” the study further added. (IANS)

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Breast Milk Boosts Brain Development in Premature Babies

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies

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Breastmilk
Breastmilk aids in combatting diseases in Newborns. Pixabay.

Premature babies fed with breast milk are more likely to have better brain development than those fed on formula milk, a new study has found.

According to studies, pre-term birth is associated with changes in the part of the brain’s structure that helps brain cells to communicate with one another, known as white matter.

However, this research showed that pre-term babies who exclusively received breast milk for at least three-quarters of the days spent in hospital showed improved brain connectivity, compared to babies who consumed less.

“Our findings suggest that brain development in the weeks after pre-term birth is improved in babies who receive greater amounts of breast milk,” said James Boardman, Director of the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh.

“The study highlights the need for more research to understand the role of early life nutrition for improving long-term outcomes for pre-term babies, he added.

Premature birth is associated with the possibilities of an increased risk of the decline of cognitive skills in later life, which are thought to be linked to alterations in brain development.

Breast Milk
Breast milk may help boost preemies’ brain development. Pixabay

Helping mothers to provide breast milk in the weeks after giving birth could improve long-term outcomes for children born pre-term, the researchers noted, in the paper published in the journal NeuroImage.

“Mothers of pre-term babies should be supported to provide breast milk while their baby is in neonatal care — if they are able to and if their baby is well enough to receive milk — because this may give their children the best chance of healthy brain development,” Boardman said.

For the study, the team analysed MRI brain scans of a small number of babies.

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The babies were born before 33 weeks gestation and scans took place when they reached term-equivalent age, an average of 40 weeks from conception.

The effects were greatest in babies who were fed breast milk for a greater proportion of their time spent in intensive care. (IANS)