Why are we interested in what babies eat and drink?

We know very little about what Australian children under 2 years eat and drink. This period is important because food habits formed during this period can be long lasting.

That’s why we are conducting a study to develop a tool to measure what children eat and drink under 2 years, piloting in Adelaide and scaling up nationally thereafter.

With this information, we aim to understand infant feeding practices and meal and snack patterns so we can support parents and caregivers establish healthy eating patterns at an early age.

The ORIP Trial (Omega-3 fats to Reduce the Incidence of Prematurity) is a research study that investigated whether taking a fish oil rich in the omega 3 fat, called Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), during pregnancy will help prevent very premature delivery.

It was the largest clinical trial of omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy in the world. The study has finished recruiting and analysis of results is currently taking place.

If you are planning or currently breastfeeding your baby you may be able to help us identify whether babies born in Adelaide may need vitamin D supplements at birth.

Vitamin D is made in the skin when exposed to sun. However, the Cancer Council of Australia discourages exposing babies to sunlight as this increases the risk of skin cancer. In the winter, the sun in South Australia is not strong enough to make a lot of vitamin D. Therefore, there is a need to find out what the level of vitamin D is in South Australian babies and whether they need supplementation. Health experts in parts of Europe and North America recommend that all breastfed babies be given vitamin D supplements. However, in Australia, we have no similar recommendations. We hope to provide information to help make recommendations as to whether young babies in South Australia need early supplementation.

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This Fish on Farms team is currently developing a scalable, cost-effective model of integrated Homestead Food Production (HFP) to improve nutrition, food security and women’s empowerment in Cambodia with the aim of reaching 4500 households.

Infantile beriberi, a fatal disease caused by thiamin (vitamin B1) deficiency, remains a public health concern in Cambodia and regions where B-vitamin poor, polished white rice is a staple food. Low maternal thiamin intake limits breast milk thiamin content, putting breastfed infants at risk of beriberi. In this study we fortified fish sauce, a popular Cambodian condiment, to increase maternal dietary thiamin intake.

This is a randomised trial funded by NHMRC to evaluate a user-controlled, personalised and interactive mobile phone tool to support and facilitate maternal fetal movement awareness and reporting of decreased fetal movements.

Anemia, defined by a low hemoglobin level, affects half of women in Cambodia. Hemoglobin is important as it helps to transfer oxygen in the blood throughout the body. Without enough hemoglobin women feel tired and it may hurt their baby when pregnant. Anemia is caused by poor nutrition, blood gene problems, as well as infections. In Cambodia, iron deficiency is assumed to be the cause of anemia due to low-iron diets. However, it is difficult to assess iron deficiency in populations that have high rates of blood gene problems and infection. The blood markers that are usually used to measure iron deficiency are increased in people with these blood gene problems and infection. Therefore, it is difficult to determine if women in Cambodia really have iron deficiency. This is important in terms of planning nutrition programs that will help with anemia. In this study we supplemented women with iron and measured hemoglobin to assess whether anaemia was caused by iron deficiency.

In response to clear indications from our Aboriginal Research Partnership that improving women’s and children’s nutrition was a high community priority, we developed a proposal for a NHMRC Targeted Call on Research for Preventing Obesity in 18-24 year olds. We were recently awarded $975,882 from NHMRC to conduct this five year study.

The MAGENTA trial is assessing whether antenatal magnesium sulphate given to women at risk of preterm birth between 30 and 34 weeks' gestation reduces the risk of death or cerebral palsy in their children.

The aims of the WISH project are to nationally monitor and improve uptake of the use of antenatal magnesium sulphate immediately prior to imminent (birth planned or definitely expected within 24 hours) early preterm birth (less than 30 weeks' gestation) to reduce the risk of babies dying or developing cerebral palsy.

Why are we interested in what babies eat?

Australian infant feeding guidelines for prevention of food allergy encourage common allergens (egg, peanut paste and wheat) to be included in babies’ diets in their first year.

We would like to know how often one year old children are eating common food allergens like egg, peanut and wheat.

As a follow up to our N3RO Trial (N-3 fatty acids for improvement in Respiratory Outcomes), which showed that giving extra omega 3 fats to babies born <29 weeks has no effect on chronic lung disease and may indeed increase risk, we are investigating what the important longer-term effects at 5-years of age of extra DHA in the first months of life for babies born 3 to 4 months prematurely by assessing the children’s mental development.

A clinical trial led by Associate Professor Carmel Collins and funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. For further information please contact Jacqueline.Gould@sahmri.com

The CRE in Targeted Nutrition to Improve Maternal and Child Health Outcomes (NMC CRE) brings together a team of experts across Australia and New Zealand that will focus on 4 key themes based around nutritional interventions to optimise health outcomes of mothers and their children.

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SAHMRI is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna Nation.

The SAHMRI community acknowledges and respects the traditional owners, the family clans who are the Kaurna Nation from the Adelaide Plains region of South Australia. We acknowledge the clans of the Kaurna Nation and the sacred knowledge they hold for their country. We pay our respects to the Kaurna Nation, their ancestors and the descendants of these living family clans today.