Study: Grain Foods Essential to Infant Diets

January 22nd 2020
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor

According to a recently published study in the peer-reviewed medical journal, Nutrients, grains were found to be crucial to a healthy infant diet; in addition, the study outlined the potential risks of excluding them.

According to a recently published study in the peer-reviewed medical journal,Nutrients, grains were found to be crucial to a healthy infant diet; in addition, the study outlined the potential risks of excluding them.

The study authors analyzed infant data from the 2001-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to assess the relationship of grain food with nutrient and energy intake, diet quality, and food group consumption in infant grain consumers relative to non-consumers.

Compared with non-consumers, the study found that 6- to 12-month old infants had significantly higher dietary fiber, calcium, folate, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, choline, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. Meanwhile, 13- to 23-month old infants had greater daily dietary fiber, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 relative to non-consumers.

In diet quality scores, younger grain-consuming infants typically ate more greens and beans, total fruit, whole grains, refined grains, dairy foods, total protein foods, seafood, plant protein foods, and saturated fat compared with non-consumers of grains. Additionally, older infants consuming grains typically ate more whole fruit, whole grains, and refined grains relative to non-consumers.

In both younger and older infant groups, grain intake was linked with greater daily intake of several recommended food groups versus non-consumption of grains. Infant grain consumption was connected to higher refined and whole grain intake, as well as greater intake of total fruits, total vegetables, total meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, and seeds compared with non-consumers of grains.

"This study is the first to examine grain consumption patterns among U.S. infants using NHANES and clearly provides evidence for what organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC, have been suggesting for decades: grains support the backbone of a healthy infant diet," said study author Yanni Papanikolaou, MPH, of Nutritional Strategies Inc, in a prepared statement. "In addition, the study highlights the many potential long-term nutrition-related health risks of eliminating or reducing grain foods from diets during one of the most crucial stages of growth and development."

Papanikolaou acknowledged that although grains can be contributors of sugar and sodium to children’s diets, certain grain foods contribute high-value nutrient density that surpasses caloric contributions in the diet.

In conclusion, the study suggests that early acceptance and familiarity with nutrient-dense whole grain and fortified or enriched refined grain foods will likely help to close nutrient intake recommendation gaps as children grow and develop.

REFERENCE

New study highlights importance of grain foods in infant diets [news release]. Washington; PR Newswire: January 20, 2020. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-study-highlights-importance-of-grain-foods-in-infant-diets-300989021.html. Accessed January 21, 2020.

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