A proper nutrition regime, including breastfeeding immediately after birth, will maintain brain development during the first three years of life, according to local and international leading pediatric nutrition experts.

Pedro Alarcon, medical director at US-based Abbott Nutrition Chicago, said: “Most baby-formula milk is made based on breast-milk composition to help users to match the performance of breast-fed infants. However, breast milk still has many bioactive components that are not found in formula milk.”

These special bioactive components include cytokines and anti-inflammatory ingredients, protective and growth factors, hormones, digestive enzymes and transporters, he said.
Pedro spoke at an international conference that was held recently on separate days in Hanoi and HCM City , with the participation of more than 1,000 pediatricians from hospitals and clinics across the country.

Prof. Alan Lucas, director of the Pediatric Nutrition Research Centre of the London-based Pediatrics Health Institute, also emphasised the role of the breast milk and early nutrition on growth and development.

Breastfeeding helps prevent diseases, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular.

Experts at the event said that the early years of life were a “golden chance” for brain development.
By age three, a child’s brain has grown to about 80 percent of adult size. By age four, the brain has developed half of its cognitive potential.
An early nutrition regimen for infants helps babies grow and contributes to the development of their brains, bones and immune system.
Results of scientific research show that nutrition in the early years of life can have a profound effect on a child’s ability to learn and develop.

Lucas spoke about “nutrition programming,” which includes the application of a proper nutrition regimen, such as breastfeeding immediately after birth.

Prof and Dr Hoang Trong Kim, vice chairman of the Vietnam Pediatrics Association (VNPA), said that in the early years of life children must be provided with enough essential optimal nutrients to support this stage.

Lucas also dealt with some important changes in pediatric nutrition research in recent years.

Formerly, researchers have focused on how to meet nutritional needs but now pay attention to nutrition’s long-term efects on human health.

Lucas said a common misconception was the promotion of early and rapid growth in the early years of life.

Such growth would unfavourably influence health in the future, he said.
Nutrition formula research should be based on credible scientific evidence to ensure safety and effectiveness in the interim as well as long term, according to Pedro.

The symposia were jointly organised by the Vietnam Pediatrics Association, Abbott Laboratories SA, and doctors from the UK , the US and Vietnam./.