Current news in the world of pregnancy and parenting has revealed that proper nutrition during the maternal and early childhood stages of development may protect children from obesity later in life. A study has revealed that children living in an area which has a high level of traffic pollution are three times more likely to develop autism when compared to infants exposed to low levels of pollution. A study conducted in Pakistan has revealed that mothers cease breastfeeding early in order to return to employment, this is a concern as this country has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Furthermore breastfeeding has been proven to be beneficial in providing improved health outcomes for infants and may be critical in reducing infant deaths in countries such as Pakistan.
The importance of diet during pregnancy
Birth weight has been shown to influence the health outcomes of children later in life and can be associated with the diet consumed during pregnancy. Low birth weights consistent with nutritional deficiencies in energy, iron and micro-nutrients can be associated with metabolic imbalances and may ultimately lead to obesity later in life. Studies have also shown that a high protein intake such as through feeding formula early in life may also lead to obesity. Breastfeeding reduces the incidence of obesity later in a childs’ life by 20% (Yang and Huffman, 2012). This is significant in a world where obesity is becoming an epidemic.
A link between autism and air quality
A study conducted by the University of Southern Carolina and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry has compared 279 autistic children with 245 unaffected children. The results of this study have shown that children living in areas of high traffic pollution were three times more likely to be autistic than children who were exposed to low levels of this pollution. The results of this study are significant given that we live in a world which is becoming more and more urbanised and with this comes reduced air quality and increased transports. The results of this study are supported by earlier research carried out in this area.
Breastfeeding promotes infant health however mothers need support programs to make the transition
Many studies have shown the health benefits associated with breastfeeding, of particular note is the improvement in immunity and ultimately a reduction in infant mortality. A study conducted in Pakistan has shown that many women find it difficult to continue breastfeeding when they return to employment resulting in a reduction in the prevalence of breastfeeding which is concerning in a country which has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Women who were able to continue breastfeeding whilst being employed said it was important to receive social and workplace support, information and to be able to communicate openly about their needs. The study unveiled a need to develop programs and systems to encourage and support mothers to continue breastfeeding when they returned to work.