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Minerva Pediatrica 2020 June;72(3):182-95

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4946.20.05803-X

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Nutrition in developmental age: few rules to stay healthy

Valentina FABIANO , Elena ALBANI , Giulia M. CAMMI, Gian V. ZUCCOTTI

Department of Pediatrics, V. Buzzi Children’s Hospital, ASST Fatebenefratelli-Sacco, University of Milan, Milan, Italy



The first 1000 days of life represent a critical window for infants’ and children’s development. Overweight and insulin resistance, at the basis of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), are linked to various risk factors that begin in childhood, including children’s diet. Italian data on infants’ and children’s dietary habits show higher intake of proteins, simple sugars, unhealthy fats and salt than recommended, while the iron intake is below requirement. We reviewed current literature analyzing observational studies, meta-analysis, systematic review and randomized clinical trials of the last 10 years (from 2009) on nutrition in developmental age, providing some few rules to abide by. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended by World Health Organization for the first 6 months of life and it should be continued alongside the complementary feeding period until 12 months, or even afterward. Complementary feeding should not be started before the 17th week of age with energetically adequate foods, paying attention to limit protein intake and favoring iron-rich foods. Intake of simple sugars should be limited or avoided at all; it has been demonstrated that substituting sugar-sweetened beverages with water decreases body fatness development in adolescence. Quality of the ingested fats is more important than their quantity: polyunsaturated fatty acids should be preferred. Sodium intake should be limited in the first 24 months of life, as first prevention measure of arterial hypertension later in adulthood. Healthy eating habits are the first important step toward the prevention of NCDs.


KEY WORDS: Nutritional status; Infant nutritional physiological phenomena; Breast feeding; Protein-energy malnutrition

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