First 1,000 days most crucial for lifelong health, Dubai Health Authority underscores at nutrition symposium

150 international a experts address key issues related to first 1,000 days of child nutrition at first Early Life Nutrition Network Middle East Symposium

  Dubai, UAE;March 9th, 2015:“Nutrition is one of the most important factors in determining future health, and one of the easiest that can be controlled by members of the community,” said Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim Kalban, Executive Director of Hospital Services, Dubai Health Authority, during the first Early Life Nutrition Network Middle East Symposium in Dubai, hosted by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and supported by Danone Nutricia. The event was attended by regional and international experts in early life nutrition. The symposium focused on early life nutritional programming (ENP), a concept that explores how differences in nutritional experience at critical periods in both pre- and post-natal life can programme an individual’s long term immunologic, metabolic and microbiological development and health. Dr. Kalban said: “A wide range of professionals and experts recognise the importance of proper nutrition from the day a child is born, but many do not realise that nutrition is as important during pregnancy as it is in the early stages of a baby’s life, after they are born. It gives us great pleasure to see the high level of interest in this topic amongst our colleagues, doctors and specialists from around the region and beyond. The first 1000 days of life, from conception to the end of the child’s second year, is a period of very rapid growth and development. Nutritional requirements in this period are crucial, as they play a key role in the child’s early development. The development of the gastro-intestinal tract during this period, for instance, is critical for fine-tuning metabolism and the immune system, and ensuring a healthy birth weight and protecting the infant from illness. “Through this conference, we seek to demonstrate the importance of the first 1,000 days of a human life, “Dr. Kalban continued, “starting in pregnancy and continuing through the first two years, and the role that these 1,000 days play in shaping a human’s health for the future, including strengthening their immune system, and decreasing the possibility of non-communicative diseases such as diabetes and obesity.” Dr. Hanan Anwar, Corporate Affairs Director at Danone Nutricia, said: “Providing the right nutrition for expecting mothers and their children, from pregnancy through to the child’s second birthday, is essential for laying the foundation for a healthy future. We would like to thank the Dubai Health Authority, and the Symposium’s distinguished speakers and guests, for helping us to spread awareness of how critical nutrition in the early days of a child’s life.” During pregnancy, mothers are recommended to enhance their diet in order to pass the most nutrients on to their baby, with additions such as Omega 3, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. Breastfeeding is encouraged to provide the best start to a baby’s life once born, with long-lasting benefits for both mother and her child, followed by a healthy, varied weaning diet that will lead to establishing positive eating habits for life. Addressing a child’s nutritional needs in the first 1,000 days provides them with a more robust immune system, reduces their chances of being obese, encourages healthier eating habits for life, and has a positive effect on brain development.