Growth and Development in Early Life: Follow your Gut

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The book, “Growth and Development in Early Life: Follow your Gut” is a one- of- a- kind tome – put together by some of the most prominent pediatricians in the country to share insights on the latest information on topics most pertinent in clinical practice.  Concise but comprehensive, this handy reference booklet should be in all pediatrician’s shelves!  This booklet was launched to mark the 10th anniversary of the Nestle Nutrition Institute in Singapore.

The book starts with a chapter on “Gut microbiota: the key to immunity and beyond”, written by Professor Lee Bee Wah, suggesting that the role of the gut microbiota goes far beyond digestion.  A healthy gut microbiota is vital for optimal immune functions and impacts the risk of infectious disease in children.   To date, the good news is that the composition of the gut microbiota can be positively influenced by dietary intervention with a group of oligosaccharides – a unique type of prebiotics.  This is further elaborated in a chapter on “Human milk oligosaccharides” by Prof Anne Goh.  

“Is protein too much of a good thing?”, Professor Lee Yung Seng in his chapter examines the emerging evidence on the link between dietary protein during the early years and obesity. He explains how the consumption of protein with quality closer to that of breast milk may help alleviating the matter.  While optimal growth is a topic foremost in the minds of healthcare practitioners.  Prof Fabian Yap’s chapter on “Monitoring Growth” shares the local updated guidelines on monitoring growth and offers recommendations on how to help children grow optimally.   

The most common barriers to optimal child nutrition including Food allergies and Fussy eating. Prof Lynette Shek and Dr Elizabeth Tham share the latest evidence-based strategies in preventing and managing food allergies in young children, while Prof Marion Aw sheds light on what defines ‘fussy eating’ and how to advise caregivers on managing fussy eating.  
Apart from nutrition, the book also covers other aspects that are vital to optimizing the wellbeing of children, such as optimal sleep.  Prof Daniel Goh highlights the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive development and neurobehavioral performance in children, while Dr Evelyn Law expounds on why self-regulation skills might be more meaningful than a high IQ in today’s world and offers practical advise on how healthcare professionals should talk to parents about self-regulation.