What are the current major concerns in the field of infant nutrition?
Eating habits are established very early on in life
Numerous studies have underscored that being exposed to certain factors during foetal development and the first few years of life can impact an individual's long-term health. Furthermore, research carried out by INRAE has shown that dietary habits are established very early on. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that children be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life because of the associated health benefits. However, given that breastfeeding rates are extremely low in France, it is important to study the diets of infants that are not exclusively breastfed. There are numerous infant formulas present on the market, and their nutritional composition varies greatly.
What are the main research questions that interest you? What methodological challenges have you encountered?
My work is primarily focused on how the health and development of children is affected by breastfeeding, the nutritional composition of infant formulas, and various types of parental practices. I therefore need access to long-term longitudinal data. Birth cohort studies, such as ELFE, yield observations that can be used to examine the different facets of our diets from a nutritional perspective. A behavioural perspective has also been made possible, thanks to collaboration among research teams with complementary areas of expertise. However, this type of data does not allow us to establish causality. We therefore also need to perform randomised clinical trials.
What are the priority areas of research in infant nutrition?
Parents are eager to receive dietary advice related to their children, both in terms of ideal foods and behavioural approaches. To provide recommendations that are strongly backed by science, researchers must investigate how food choice and parental practices influence children's health in the intermediate to long term.