The first 1,000 days is crucial because it presents an opportunity to reduce health risks, now and in future life. It’s centred around the individual’s ability to respond to their environment. This is known as ‘adaptive capacity’ or ‘plasticity’. It is thought that plasticity is at its greatest during the first 1,000 days of life¹ which is why environmental factors can have the greatest effect during this period²`³.
It’s been scientifically proven that nutrition in the first 1,000 days can affect the behaviour and physiology of children⁴`⁵. These behavioural impacts can manifest themselves as taste preferences, early feeding habits and food texture preferences, while the physiological can be brain development, immune system and metabolic rate.
The first 1,000 days is a unique window of opportunity where environmental factors — such as nutrition — can influence rapidly developing organs and body systems⁶.
Early Life Nutritional Programming
During this crucial period, diet and early life nutritional exposure are particularly significant². By making the right nutritional choices from conception to toddlerhood, mothers can make a significant difference to their children’s long term health. There is a growing body of evidence that early life nutritional programming (ELNP) can affect both physiology and behaviour.
And in the first 1,000 days healthcare professionals’ nutritional intervention may have a lifelong impact, by supporting optimal health with the potential to positively influence long term health outcomes ²`³.
A helping hand for healthcare professionals
“Our role at Nutricia Early Life Nutrition is to help healthcare professionals help their patients,” Laura from the Nutricia ELN Solutions team explains. “In 2017 we helped over 200 healthcare professionals attend events and gain educational grants — registering through Eln.Nutricia.co.uk – but we want to open this up to more healthcare professionals.”
Surprisingly, not all healthcare professionals are aware of the ways in which Nutricia ELN can help them support Mums.
Dr Josh, a GP from Islington, says: “I hadn’t heard about all of the different resources available; particularly ones that are easily digestible and easy to negotiate around our day-to-day practices. It’s so important to be constantly learning and understanding the development in the science of early life nutrition — finding information you can trust, learn and lean on, is incredibly important for the modern healthcare professional.”
Breastfeeding is best for babies
Breast milk is the only natural food tailored for newborn babies. It provides the perfect balance of nutrients required for optimal growth and development and changes in composition over time to meet the babies changing requirements. The nutrients are provided in a form that is easy to digest and highly bioavailable, so they are readily absorbed by an infant’s immature digestive system⁴.
Breast milk provides a baby with perfectly balanced nutrition, which is why the World Health Organisation recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life⁵. However, many mums either choose not to or can’t breastfeed. In this instance, infant formulas provide the onlyalternative to breastmilk and for all our products, we have a data card that provides comprehensive nutritional information and ingredients — ensuring healthcare professionals have all the information they need to help their patients.
There are detailed print materials on allergy support, allergy symptoms, the importance of calcium, weaning fact sheets and more practical information such as a vaginal inspection guide.
Building on our print materials are our e-learning modules which can be accessed on our website. Each module counts towards CPD and is designed to help healthcare professionals deepen their knowledge of infant nutrition and common feeding problems, enabling healthcare professionals to advise parents with confidence.
Alternatively, if you would like to speak to someone who understands what it’s like to be on the frontline of healthcare, you can call our designated healthcare professional careline. Our careline for healthcare professionals is open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. Just phone 0800 996 1234 for expert advice on infant feeding and nutrition, including common infant feeding problems such as cows’ milk allergy, colic, constipation and reflux.
“We take calls from GPs, nutritionists, dietitians, midwives, health visitors…”
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breastfeeding is best for babies. Infant formula is suitable from birth when babies are not breastfed. Follow-on milk is only for babies over 6 months, as part of a mixed diet and should not be used as a breastmilk substitute before 6 months. We advise that all formula milks including the decision to start weaning should be made on the advice of a doctor, midwife, health visitor, public health nurse, dietitian, pharmacist or other professional responsible for maternal and child care. Foods for special medical purposes should only be used under medical supervision. May be suitable for use as the sole source of nutrition for infants from birth, and/or as part of a balanced diet from 6–12 months. Refer to label for details.