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Toddler Nutrition May Be Key To Reducing Infection

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Toddlers in Auckland will be offered a supplemented milk drink as part of a study that aims to reduce serious infection and improve child learning.

The research, undertaken by The University of Auckland and Tamaki Healthcare, will provide parents of children aged 12 to 18 months with nutrition advice and a milk drink containing vitamins and minerals. The health and learning ability of the children will be monitored. This project will lead to a larger trial which will show if improving nutrition of children can increase their learning ability and reduce serious infections, such as pneumonia and gastroenteritis.

Infections such as pneumonia and gastroenteritis kill millions of children worldwide each year, and children with poor nutrition are more likely to contract these diseases. In New Zealand, these diseases are common in young children, particularly those with poor nutrition.

"New Zealand has a poor record with pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses, with one of the highest rates of children admitted to hospital in the developed world," says Associate Professor Cameron Grant of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. "We are hoping that by improving the nutrition of children at a young age, we will be able to reduce potentially life-threatening infections, and increase the children's ability to learn."

Participants are being recruited from central Auckland with information about the project being made available to them through the Tamaki Healthcare general practices. The project requires each child to attend a clinic appointment at the School of Population Health at the University's Tamaki Campus. Tamaki Healthcare has a number of GP clinics that are in reasonably close location to the School of Population Health.

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