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There is limited data on the dietary patterns of 5-year-old children in Asia. The study examined childhood dietary patterns and their maternal and child correlates in a multi-ethnic Asian cohort. Based on caregiver-reported 1-month quantitative FFQ of 777 children from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes cohort, cluster analysis identified two mutually exclusive clusters. Children in the ‘Unhealthy’ cluster (43·9 %) consumed more fries, processed meat, biscuits and ice cream, and less fish, fruits and vegetables compared with those in the ‘Healthy’ cluster (56·1 %). Children with mothers of lower educational attainment had twice the odds of being assigned to the ‘Unhealthy’ cluster (adjusted OR (95 % CI) = 2·19 (95 % CI 1·49–3·24)). Children of Malay and Indian ethnicities had higher odds of being assigned to the ‘Unhealthy’ cluster (adjusted OR = 25·46 (95 % CI 15·40, 42·10) and 4·03 (95 % CI 2·68–6·06), respectively), relative to Chinese ethnicity. In conclusion, this study identified two dietary patterns in children, labelled as the ‘Unhealthy’ and ‘Healthy’ clusters. Mothers’ educational attainment and ethnicity were two correlates that were associated with the children’s assignments to the clusters. These findings can assist in informing health promotion programmes targeted at Asian children.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including obesity, diabetes, and allergy are chronic, multi-factorial conditions that are affected by both genetic and environmental factors. Over the last decade, the microbiome has emerged as a possible contributor to the pathogenesis of NCDs. Microbiome profiles were altered in patients with NCDs, and shift in microbial communities was associated with improvement in these health conditions. Since the genetic component of these diseases cannot be altered, the ability to manipulate the microbiome holds great promise for design of novel therapies in the prevention and treatment of NCDs. Together, the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease concept and the microbial hypothesis propose that early life exposure to environmental stimuli will alter the development and composition of the human microbiome, resulting in health consequences. Recent studies indicated that the environment we are exposed to in early life is instrumental in shaping robust immune development, possibly through modulation of the human microbiome (skin, airway, and gut). Despite much research into human microbiome, the origin of their constituent microbiota remains unclear. Dust (also known as particulate matter) is a key determinant of poor air quality in the modern urban environment. It is ubiquitous and serves as a major source and reservoir of microbial communities that modulates the human microbiome, contributing to health and disease. There are evidence that reported significant associations between environmental dust and NCDs. In this review, we will focus on the impact of dust exposure in shaping the human microbiome and its possible contribution to the development of NCDs.
Recent evidence suggests that synchronizing eating-fasting schedules with body's circadian rhythms or day-night cycles is important for metabolic health. Besides food quantity and quality, food timing may contribute to weight regulation. However, it is unclear if this factor during pregnancy can influence maternal weight retention after childbirth. Using data from a prospective cohort, the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study, we examined the associations of maternal circadian eating pattern and diet quality in pregnancy with substantial postpartum weight retention (PPWR) at 18 months. We assessed 687 pregnant women for their circadian eating pattern (night-eating, night-fasting and eating episodes) and diet quality (Healthy Eating Index) based on information derived from 24-h dietary recall at 26–28 weeks’ gestation. Night-eating was defined as > 50% of total energy intake during 1900–0659 h; night-fasting duration was determined based on the longest fasting interval between consumption of a calorie-containing food or beverage during 1900–0659 h; eating episodes were defined as events that provided ≥ 210 kJ with time intervals between eating episodes of ≥ 15 min; diet quality was ascertained using the Healthy Eating Index which measures adherence to the Singapore dietary guidelines for pregnant women. PPWR was calculated by subtracting the weight at the first antenatal clinic visit from weight at 18-month postpartum. Substantial PPWR was defined as weight retention of 5 kg or more. Adjusting for maternal age, ethnicity, education, parity, night shift, mood, body mass index and total energy intake, multivariable binary logistic regression analysis was performed to estimate odds ratio (OR) of substantial PPWR in relation to circadian eating pattern and diet quality. Of 687 women, 110 (16%) had substantial PPWR. After confounders adjustment, night-eating (OR 1.95; 95% confidence interval 1.05, 3.62) and lower diet quality (1.91; 1.17, 3.10) were independently associated with higher odds of substantial PPWR. No associations with substantial PPWR were observed for night-fasting duration and number of eating episodes. During pregnancy, women with higher caloric consumption at night and lower diet quality had a greater likelihood of substantial PPWR. These findings suggest that aligning eating time with day-night cycles and adherence to dietary guidelines during pregnancy may help to alleviate overweight and obesity risk in postpartum life. There is a possibility that these eating patterns persist beyond pregnancy and pose implications for long-term obesity development. Further investigation on this area is required.
Maternal and child health are intrinsically linked. With accumulating evidence over the past two decades supporting the developmental origins of health and diseases hypothesis, it is now widely recognised that nutrition in the first 1000 d sets the foundation for long-term health. Maternal diet before, during and after pregnancy can influence the developmental pathways of the fetus and lead to health consequences later in life. While maternal and infant mortality rates have declined significantly in the past two decades, the growing burden of obesity and chronic non-communicable diseases in women of reproductive age and children is on a rapid rise worldwide, in developed and developing countries. A key contributory factor is malnutrition, which is a consequence of consuming poor quality diets. Suboptimal macronutrient balance and micronutrient inadequacies can lead to undesirable maternal body composition and metabolism, in turn influencing the health of the mother and leading to longer-term metabolic and cognitive health consequences in the infant. The GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes) study, a mother–offspring multi-ethnic cohort study in Singapore, has contributed to this body of evidence over the past 10 years. This review will illustrate how nutritional epidemiological research through a birth cohort has illuminated the importance and urgency of maternal and child nutrition and health in a modern, industrialised setting. It underscores the importance of a number of critical nutrients during pregnancy, in combination with healthy dietary patterns and appropriate meal timing, for optimal maternal and child health.
Studies have suggested that maternal PUFA status during pregnancy may influence early childhood allergic diseases, although findings are inconsistent. We examined the relationship between maternal PUFA status and risk of allergic diseases in early childhood in an Asian cohort. Maternal plasma samples from the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes mother–offspring cohort were assayed at 26–28 weeks of gestation for relative abundance of PUFA. Offspring (n 960) were followed up from 3 weeks to 18 months of age, and clinical outcomes of potential allergic diseases (rhinitis, eczema and wheezing) were assessed by repeated questionnaires. Skin prick testing (SPT) was also performed at the age of 18 months. Any allergic disease with positive SPT was defined as having any one of the clinical outcomes plus a positive SPT. The prevalence of a positive SPT, rhinitis, eczema, wheezing and any allergic disease with positive SPT was 14·1 % (103/728), 26·5 % (214/808), 17·6 % (147/833), 10·9 % (94/859) and 9·4 % (62/657), respectively. After adjustment for confounders, maternal total n-3, n-6 PUFA status and the n-6:n-3 PUFA ratio were not significantly associated with offspring rhinitis, eczema, wheezing, a positive SPT and having any allergic disease with positive SPT in the offspring (P>0·01 for all). A weak trend of higher maternal n-3 PUFA being associated with higher risk of allergic diseases with positive SPT in offspring was observed. These findings do not support the hypothesis that the risk of early childhood allergic diseases is modified by variation in maternal n-3 and n-6 PUFA status during pregnancy in an Asian population.
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