FUNIBER Opinions: How the first thousand days of our lives impact us

We interviewed Professor Laura Martín Rubio, specialist in International Health and Malnutrition, who explains the importance of taking care of food and health in the first days of life.

Professor Laura Martín Rubio coordinated a reception and comprehensive care center for women in the Ankalika neighborhood, in the city of Toliara (Madagascar), between 2018 and 2019. This experience at the center has given her the most practical knowledge on the importance of improving the nutritional and general health status of both mothers and their children.

“I believe that a very positive contribution was made to protection during the first thousand days for life, since continuous support in nutrition was guaranteed,” says Laura Martín Rubio. She is part of the faculty of the new program that FUNIBER is beginning to promote, the Master’s Degree in Maternal and Child Nutrition, offered by the European University of the Atlantic.

The teacher highlights the fundamental importance of adequate nutrition during the first 1000 days of life to guarantee intellectual capacities, integration in socio-economic development as well as protecting health as adults.

From various studies, it is known that this initial period, from the moment of pregnancy until the child’s second birthday, is crucial for health, brain development, education and a better economic condition.

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What care is necessary during the first 1000 days for the effects to be positive for the growth and development of an individual?

Proper nutrition, which respects the specific nutritional requirements during pregnancy and the child’s growth, is essential for proper development, both physical and mental. Affection is also very important, as is stimulation and proper psychomotor development.

Are there any types of diseases associated with nutrition in this period?

It has been observed in various studies how incorrect nutrition in this stage of life generates a greater vulnerability to diseases during childhood, as well as a greater predisposition to diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. Furthermore, eating habits learned in childhood can become entrenched and perpetuated from generation to generation.

How should a prevention and public health professional act for a more adequate maternal and child nutrition during these first 1,000 days?

In the first place, transmitting the importance of prevention during this period and exposing the magnitude of the consequences, generally irreversible, for the future. Some actions to achieve adequate maternal and child nutrition could be:

  • Encourage breastfeeding.
  • Promote proper nutrition (before and during pregnancy, as well as during breastfeeding).
  • Ensure appropriate complementary feeding for children.
  • Facilitate access to the health system, for prenatal, gestational and, later, pediatric follow-up.
  • Promote education in nutrition, health and hygiene.

Are there initiatives by international institutions – such as the World Health Organization (WHO), for example – that seek to protect and guarantee the necessary resources for this period in more vulnerable societies? Do you think they are effective, efficient and work?

One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 agenda focuses on health and well-being, with special emphasis on maternal and child health. In recent years, progress has been made in this regard, however, the data on mortality, both maternal and child, remain alarming and unacceptable. So the answer is yes, there are initiatives, however, greater efforts are needed by all, so that the results in this fight are as expected.

What type of training is offered with the Master in Maternal and Child Nutrition?

The new Master’s Degree in Maternal-Infant Nutrition, through an innovative approach and through comprehensive training, delves into relevant aspects such as parental fertility and addresses the different physiological dimensions of the maternal-infant collective, in a state of health, illness or disability, providing appropriate nutritional responses to the different problems that may arise.master’s degree, Maternity, nutrition, health

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