Department of Education & Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin D01 RC96 mary.mitchelloconnor@oir.ie 01-8892199

Nutrition during first 1,000 days dictates health for the rest of a child’s life

Fine Gael Dún Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor, has highlighted the importance of good nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking at a medical symposium in Dublin today titled Nutrition in the First 1,000 Days.

“The nourishment that we give our children for the first 1,000 days of their lives will dictate their health or otherwise for the rest of their lives. Early life nutrition dictates whether or not your baby grows up to:

· be a healthy or unhealthy adult;
· be obese;
· have heart disease;
· have diabetes.

“In encouraging women in this regard, a focus needs to be placed on supporting women to eat well during pregnancy, to breastfeed for as long as possible and to take the appropriate steps for weaning and then for feeding a toddler.

“By the time the baby is born, it has been nourished for almost 300 days. This, combined with combined with the nutrition they will receive for the next 700 days will affect their health for the rest of their lives.

“Breast milk is commonly known as the ‘magic potion for health’ and there is irrefutable evidence that breast-fed babies are less likely to be obese and less likely to develop health problems, such as high cholesterol, diabetes and stroke in their adult lives.

“Yet Ireland still ranks way down the international breast-feeding scale, with fewer than half of new Irish mothers initiating breast-feeding, compared to 80% in the UK and 90% in the Scandinavian countries. As a community, we need to eliminate the stigma surrounding breast-feeding that has existed in Ireland for so long.

“Every year 2,000 people die in Ireland due to obesity related diseases. That is about ten times the average number of people who are killed on our roads. These people don’t need to die because of bad nutrition. The annual cost of obesity is estimated to be a staggering €1.13 billion.

“As a society, we need to focus more on the importance of early life nutrition. As a legislator and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, I will do everything I can to promote this hugely important message.”

11/11/2013