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Long-Term Consequences of Nutrition and Growth in Early Childhood and Possible Preventive Interventions


Adair, Linda S. (2014). Long-Term Consequences of Nutrition and Growth in Early Childhood and Possible Preventive Interventions.. Black, Robert E.; Singhal, Atul; & Uauy, Ricardo (Eds.) (pp. 111-120). Vevey, Switzerland: Nestec Ltd., S. Karger AG.


Maternal nutritional deficiencies and excesses during pregnancy, and faster infant weight gain in the first 2 years of life are associated with increased risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in adulthood. The first 1,000 days of life (from conception until the child reaches age 2 years) represent a vulnerable period for programming of NCD risk, and are an important target for prevention of adult disease. This paper takes a developmental perspective to identify periconception, pregnancy, and infancy nutritional stressors, and to discuss mechanisms through which they influence later disease risk with the goal of informing age-specific interventions. Low- and middle-income countries need to address the dual burden of under- and overnutrition by implementing interventions to promote growth and enhance survival and intellectual development without increasing chronic disease risk. In the absence of good evidence from long-term follow-up of early life interventions, current recommendations for early life prevention of adult disease presume that interventions designed to optimize pregnancy outcomes and promote healthy infant growth and development will also reduce chronic disease risk. These include an emphasis on optimizing maternal nutrition prior to pregnancy, micronutrient adequacy in the preconception period and during pregnancy, promotion of breastfeeding and high-quality complementary foods, and prevention of obesity in childhood and adolescence.


Reference Type

Book Section

Year Published


Series Title

Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series


Adair, Linda S.