Last week I was lucky enough to speak at DSM’s Passionate About Kids Nutrition Conference in Amsterdam.
The day was full of thought-provoking content, considering the importance of nutrition from conception onwards and looking at the subject from a few different angles. I’ve certainly been thinking about what the speakers had to say and the discussion that followed.
The day began with a talk from Dr Gigi Veereman, a paediatric gastroenterologist, on the importance of nutrition on the first 1000 days of life – from conception to 2nd birthday. Two key things stood out for me; firstly the utter importance of having the right vitamins and minerals to help with the development of the brain, the most important organ and proportionately huge in comparison to the rest of baby at this time. Secondly the impact that nutrition can have on immunity, this is critical in early life and can have consequences later on in life. The importance of pre-biotics and the impact on the microbiome are also ongoing conversations in the medical world around this topic.
Mandy Daly, founder of the Irish Neonatal Health Alliance, then discussed her experience as a parent of a pre-term infant born 15 weeks early. Daly discussed the impact of such little awareness and education about the risks of having babies preterm. “Nutrition is vital for pre-term babies but parents aren't educated or prepared for what to expect” said Daly. Her own heart-breaking experience has driven her to champion this cause, not only to drive better awareness but also better understanding about the much longer reaching impacts that pre-term feeding can have for children.
We were also joined by two Bloggers, Sarah Anguish and Sezen Cakir. Anguish spoke about the day-to-day struggle of coping with her son who is a “fussy eater” and how important vitamins and supplements are for him in terms of nutrition. Cakir discussed the importance of good nutrition for fertility and how this impacted her own journey to become a mum at 40. These two stories highlighted the different challenges that face women and mothers – and showed that circumstances may not always be as we want them, regardless of our own aspirations and values.
brands can and should play a more definitive role in helping women
As the final link in the story, DSM asked me to showcase some key learnings from a global study we conducted for them on nutrition with women on the motherhood journey last year. We surveyed almost 12,000 women in 12 countries so we had a lot of data and a lot of learnings from across the globe.
There was one key learning that came out of the study loud and clear: brands can and should play a more definitive role in helping women who are trying to conceive, pregnant, nursing or weaning, understand how dietary supplements can make a real difference to their health and the health of their children.
Good nutrition for women on the journey to motherhood and for infants is so important, but with a lack of knowledge, and in some markets (especially in Europe) a certain scepticism about how supplements can actually make a difference, the challenge for brands is how to become more credible and supportive of women. With so much information and seemingly conflicting advice, there is a very real need to provide more guidance and better education.
DSM’s Passionate About Kids Nutrition conference shows the positive impact brands and manufacturers can have on lives and hopefully all the attendees have gone away feeling inspired about how they can help change the world of mothers and infants for the better.
Read more about Isobel’s talk on Nutrition Insight.