The early stages of life are a period of rapid growth and development. From the first day of pregnancy until 2 years of age, the so-called “first 1,000 days” all organs and tissues are being formed and educated. Therefore, this period offers a critical window of opportunity to shape long-term health.
‘What you do and eat in the first 1,000 days makes a difference for the rest of your life’
Nutrition plays a crucial role in this unique period. Malnutrition with an imbalanced intake of nutrients in terms of quality and quantity (both undernutrition and overnutrition) can have profound negative effects on the development of the child, and thus on the risk of non-communicable diseases in later life, such as asthma, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
‘Did you know than at least 80% of disease risk in later life is due to environment?’
Increasing scientific evidence shows that meeting the specific nutritional needs during phases of the first 1,000 days, and beyond, will positively influence short and long-term health outcomes. Indeed, it is now recognized that individual development is determined not only by genetics, but through a complex interplay of genes and the environment. It has been estimated that at most 20% of lifelong health can be explained by inherited genes. This means that at least 80% of disease risk in later life is due to the environment, including nutrition and life style. More importantly, that the developmental trajectories established in early life influence the response of an individual to later exposures [ 1, Gluckman et al, 2010 2, Godfrey et al, 2010 3, Hanley et al, 2010 4 Lillycrop, 2011 ].
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and young children have specific nutritional needs [ 5 Gluckman and Hanson, 2004 ]. Nutrition in early life has key impact on physical growth, cognitive development, immune maturation, development of digestive systems and development of healthy eating habits of the infant [ 6, Hooper et al. 2001 7 Godfrey et al, 2007 ]. At Nutricia Research, we aim to deliver optimal nutrition at each stage of development to ensure a healthy start in life.