Food, Global Health 2 min

Influence of milk nutrition on infant health and development

Research on infant nutrition involves studying how what happens early on in life can affect health and well-being throughout our existence. We interview Blandine de Lauzon-Guillain, INRAE epidemiologist at the Centre of Research in Epidemiology and StatisticS of the Sorbonne Paris Cité (INSERM, Université Paris-Sud, Université Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, INRAE) who studies milk nutrition, breastfeeding or formula feeding, and its consequences on the health and growth of the infant.

Published on 24 August 2020

illustration Influence of milk nutrition on infant health and development

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.


Blandine de Lauzon Centre of Research in Epidemiology and StatisticS Sorbonne Paris Cité (INSERM, Univ. Paris-Sud, Univ. Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, INRAE)



Learn more

Food, Global Health

A diet rich in cheese in early childhood may protect against allergies

PRESS RELEASE - A study conducted by the University Hospital of Besançon and INRA shows the protective effect of high cheese consumption from a very young age. For the first time, a link has been established between cheese consumption and the probability of developing food or skin allergic diseases, regardless of the consumption of various other foods (vegetables or fruits, cereals, bread, meat, cake and yogurt) and living conditions in a farm environment (presence and diversity of farm animals). These results have been published in the journal Allergy.

16 December 2019

Food, Global Health

When young children learn to eat a wide variety of textures

PRESS RELEASE - How do young children aged 6 to 18 months learn to eat food with a variety of textures? Which textures do they accept as a function of their age? For the first time in France, INRA researchers, in collaboration with Blédina, have studied these questions. They showed that children accept (in small amounts) most textures at an earlier age than when their parents usually offer them at home. Published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, this work suggests recommendations for complementary feeding.

27 May 2020