CDC Guest Post: Journal Series To Spotlight Importance of Early Nutrition for Health

Guest Blog Post from Dr. Ruth Petersen, Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity 

Good nutrition is essential in keeping current and future generations of Americans healthy across the lifespan. Good nutrition is especially important during the 1,000 days from a woman’s pregnancy through the child’s second birthday. During this time, optimal nutrition is critical for the child’s brain development, their healthy growth, and setting them on a trajectory for lifelong health.   

Yet today, too many families struggle to obtain optimal nutrition during the first 1,000 days. Only a third of women gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy and about 16% of pregnant women have iron deficiency. Although most infants receive some breast milk, most are not exclusively breastfeeding or continuing to breastfeed as long as recommended, and 60% of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend to. Among 1-year-olds, on a given day, fewer than half have eaten a vegetable, and 1 in 3 consume a sugary drink. And about 1 in 7 households with children is food insecure, with deep disparities by race and ethnicity. 

At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, we promote and support implementation of programs and activities to improve nutrition before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and through a child’s second birthday. This includes optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices. We support state and community partners by providing data, evidence-based strategies, and practical tools.  

The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), in collaboration with 1,000 Days, intends to publish a special issue exploring the importance of the 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age 2 for maternal and child nutrition and health in the United States. Scheduled for publication in early November 2022, the supplement will highlight how policies, systems, and environments affect the nutrition of mothers and children during the first 1,000 days. It will also summarize the state of the science and research needs related to maternal and child nutrition in the United States. View the full call for papers for complete instructions for submission. 

This special issue presents an important opportunity to illuminate the challenges and solutions to ensuring optimal nutrition for mothers and young children in the United States, and to highlight proven policies, strategies, and other solutions to eliminate inequities and health disparities.