Presently we are establishing a feeding programme to address restrictive feeding behaviours in children who are deemed safe to eat orally. The programme will use a multidisciplinary approach to address feeding issues in young children. We are developing the tools we need to assess children and to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme in order to publish research in this area.

Future research

A nutritional intervention in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder is due to start late 2014.

Children with ASD often have deficiencies in their diet due to physical and behavioural issues related to the condition. Some of these deficiencies will most certainly impact aspects of their condition such as brain function and behaviour. However, persuading these children to consume the necessary foods or getting them to take supplements is difficult – some will eat no more than four individual foods.

Some of the nutrients which can be deficient in children with ASD are known to affect brain development and function. The two nutrients that this study is going to investigate are vitamin D and omega-3.Recent studies have shown that there are a variety of methods by which both these nutrients can affect the function and connectivity of the developing brain.

If shown to be effective, increasing the vitamin D and omega-3 PUFA status of ASD children may be a powerful, non-invasive and low cost strategy for improving some of the symptoms of ASD and improving the quality of life for children and their families.

Current research

Post discharge nutrition of preterm babies: Feeding practices and growth of preterm infants from hospital discharge until one year corrected age.

Researcher: Jenny Vitali

Jenny’s research is looking at feeding practices of preterm babies over the first year of life. This is due to there being no research about how preterm babies are fed once they are discharged from the hospital. She will be interested to get an overview of all types of feeding including milk, introduction of solids, other fluids and any feeding difficulties the mother has experienced.

A retrospective audit of feeding practices in preterm infants admitted to the Special Care Baby Unit at Whangarei hospital.

Researcher: Ashleigh Share

Ashleigh’s research is investigating the feeding practices, growth outcomes and nutritional monitoring of preterm babies admitted to the SCBU at Whangarei hospital. Data collected from the research will highlight whether feeding practices result in optimal weight gain for preterm infants during admission to SCBU, meet current guidelines and provide evidence as to whether routine monitoring of the infants is adequate.

Past research

Past studies have included research with Vitamin D and Iron in preterm infants - view past research

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