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J Nutr. 2010 Nov;140(11):2002-7. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.125211. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

Maternal dietary counseling in the first year of life is associated with a higher healthy eating index in childhood.

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Department of Nutrition, University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre 90050-170, Brazil.


Food preferences are established in early childhood and track later in life. Therefore, it is important to promote healthy feeding practices as early as possible. A randomized field trial was conducted with 500 mother-child pairs from a low-income area of São Leopoldo, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to evaluate the impact of a nutritional intervention in the first year of life on the dietary quality of 3- to 4-y-old children. Mother-child pairs were randomized either to intervention and control groups and dietary counseling was provided for mothers in the intervention group during 10 home visits in the course of the first year of life. These visits were carried out by fieldworkers who counseled the mothers about the Ten Steps for Healthy Feeding from Birth to Two Years of Age, based on the WHO guidelines. Dietary intake was assessed at 3-4 y of age for 345 children using two 24-h food recalls. Overall diet quality was determined by the Healthy Eating Index. The prevalence of poor diet in the intervention group was lower compared with the control group [relative risk (RR) = 0.30; 95% CI = 0.13-0.71). The number of children who achieved the 75th percentile for the vegetable and fruit component score was higher in the intervention than in control group (RR = 1.95; 95% CI = 1.31-2.89 and RR = 1.49; 95% CI = 1.07-2.07, respectively). Such data provide evidence that dietary counseling for mothers during the first year of life improves the overall dietary quality of children in a low-income population.


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