Introduction: The earliest stage of human life is characterized by nutritional vulnerability, thus feeding practices from birth are paramount for optimal growth and development. Even in high income countries like Australia and Canada, where eating patterns may be considered a public health concern, vulnerable populations may not be meeting their nutritional requirements. This aim of this study was to determine if the transition to first foods of Indigenous Australian children in the Gomeroi gaaynggal cohort was adequate, compared to Australian reference values for key nutrients.
Methods: 24 hour dietary recalls of 115 Indigenous children aged 9 and 12 months from the Gomeroi gaaynggal longitudinal cohort were obtained and analysed. Descriptive statistical analyses were performed using Stata/IC (15.1) to compare nutrient intakes to Australian Nutrient Reference Values.
Results: At the age of 9 or 12 months, few infants were consuming breastmilk (n=19; 22.1%). All infants were consuming sufficient protein and the majority met their carbohydrate (n=95; 83.0%) and total fat (n=84; 73.0%) requirements, however their intake major micronutrients was sub-optimal. A significant number of infants met their requirements for micronutrient such as zinc (n=110; 96.1%), while few met their iron requirements (n=45; 39.1%). There were no infants who met their omega-3 fatty acid requirements while all infants exceeded the upper limit for sodium intake.
Conclusion: Indigenous infants in this cohort achieved sufficient macronutrient intakes while transitioning to first foods however their micronutrient intakes were sub-optimal. High dietary intakes of sodium in infant’s diets may increase the risk of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension in the long-term while iron and omega-3 fatty acids are important for cognitive function and prevention of anaemia. Consulting with the Indigenous community on factors influencing first foods of infants and potential intervention strategies focusing on infant nutrition is the next step with further research
Tracy Schumacher– Clinical Academic, University of Newcastle
Megan Rollo– Research Academic, University of Newcastle
Kirsty Pringle– Associate Professor, University of Newcastle
Kym Rae– Associate Professor, University of Newcastle