Monday 21 October 2019

Universities lead study into early infant feeding practices - and future health

A feasibility study aims to promote healthy early infant feeding practices in primary care.

Research shows that feeding practices such as breastfeeding and the introduction of solid foods to young infants can have a positive impact on children's risk of becoming overweight or obese.

The study has been designed by a team of researchers based at UCC, NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin in partnership with practitioners at MPHC (Mallow Primary Health Centre).

This study is being led by Dr Tony Heffernan of the HSE Nurture Programme, and parents and primary caregivers from the CHERISH (Choosing Healthy Eating for Infant Health study) public and patient-involvement group.

This group consists of researchers who are working on a nationally funded project to develop an approach that supports parents of young children regarding infant feeding practises and behaviours.

These include patterns of breastfeeding, formula feeding, solid-food intake, and feeding other complementary foods and liquids.  

MPHC has been chosen as the first site to run the study, which will inform future development and test the intervention at other primary care sites if found to be feasible and acceptable to those involved.

The research is being conducted as part of a Health Research Board (HRB) funded initiative aimed at improving early infant practices and reducing the risk of obesity in childhood and later life.

The launch, which took place on Tuesday, was attended by healthcare practitioners from MPHC along with CHERISH research teams.

Parents and primary caregivers of infants in the relevant age group will be invited to take part in the initiative over the coming weeks and months at MPHC.