Infant Health

Identifying complementary weaning foods to boost infant immune systems

Our research focus

The team is using a reverse metabolomics approach to design a weaning food from New Zealand ingredients that will help infants boost the development of their immune systems. A prototype food has been developed and is undergoing clinical studies.


Assoc Professor Clare Wall

Clare heads the Nutrition Department at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland and is the principal investigator of the Infant Health programme. Her research interest is in the inter-relationships between the determinants of nutritional status and health outcomes of the paediatric population.


Natural protection of milk

The incidence of allergy has increased worldwide in recent decades, and parents of young children are naturally concerned. Epidemiological studies have shown a clear association between the consumption of raw, unprocessed farm milk and reduced incidence of allergy. However, consumption of raw milk is not safe and to-date no ‘safe’ milk product has been available to fill this market need. The Māori-owned dairy processing and exporting company Miraka, in partnership with AgResearch, will develop a Growing Up Milk product that has the natural traits of unprocessed milk and, as such, delivers added health benefits to toddlers.

 

A good night’s sleep

When infants wake in the night they are often simply hungry. This may be because the bacteria in their colons have dealt with all the easily digested carbohydrates that provide most human energy needs. New weaning foods with optimal amounts of slowly digested dietary fibre may provide an answer. This project will define optimal mixtures of dietary fibres through laboratory experiments based on the researchers’ knowledge of new complex polysaccharides and the bacterial species present in the bowel of children during weaning. Researchers from the University of Otago lead this work.

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