Welcome to the eleventh A Better Start Southend Research Bulletin, bringing you the latest on early years’ policy, practice and evidence around Diet and Nutrition, Social and Emotional Development and Communications and Language.

Your regular update, produced by Rachel Wood, also shows how we are using these findings to influence our work in Southend as well as inviting you to help shape our work through your input!

If you would like to sign up to receive these updates, or have a question, please email abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk.

Contents (area of ABSS work):

Obesity and Breastfeeding (Diet and Nutrition)

Title: Boudet-Berquer, J. Salanave, B. Desenclos, JC. And Castetbon, K. (2017), Association between maternal pre-pregnancy obesity and breastfeeding duration: data from a nationwide prospective cohort, Maternal and Child Nutrition, e12507

Research source: https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12507

Publication date: July 2017

Our summary: This study telephone interviewed (1, 4, 8 and 12 months’ post birth) 3,368 maternal and infant pairs, including 2,316 mothers who initiated breastfeeding. The study was with a view to looking further into the association between maternal obesity and outcomes for infants and children, also looking into an apparent reduction in breastfeeding in many countries. The study found:

  • First and subsequent pregnancies play a modification effect in terms of pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI) with exclusive breastfeeding but not with breastfeeding duration;
  • With first pregnancies there was no association found with obesity, however being overweight in this group was associated with shorter exclusive breastfeeding duration;
  • With subsequent pregnancies obesity was also associated with shorter exclusive breastfeeding duration;
  • Duration of breastfeeding was shorter in obese women than in normal-weight;
  • It argues that those who are overweight in their first pregnancies, and obese in subsequent pregnancies require additional support; and

It also recommends that further research is required to assess the effectiveness of projects which support breastfeeding in those who are overweight or obese.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We are currently in the Service Design process to test and learn a project that supports breastfeeding and duration;
  • Weight and BMI is one of the factors that is being looked at within this support.

Help us help Southend

  • Why do you think that being overweight might be a factor in shorter exclusive breastfeeding? How might we influence this?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

Evaluating Breastfeeding Data (Diet and Nutrition)

Title: Bruun, S. Buhl, S. Husby, S. Jacobsen, LF. Michaelson, KM. and Zachariassen, G. (2017) Breastfeeding, Infant Formula, and Introduction to Complementary Foods—Comparing Data Obtained by Questionnaires and Health Visitors’ Reports to Weekly Short Message Service Text Messages, Breastfeeding Medicine, doi:10.1089/bfm.2017.0054

Research source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28832183

Publication date: August 2017

Our summary: This study argues that it is vital in terms of infant nutrition, growth and health that the prevalence and effects of breastfeeding data is collected in a reliable and precise way. It looked at comparing infant nutrition data (e.g. breastfeeding, use of infant formula and introduction to complimentary foods) produced by four different methods:

  • Self-administered questionnaire 3 months post birth;
  • Self-administered questionnaire 18 months post birth;
  • Registrations from health visitors; and
  • Weekly text messages introduced shortly after birth.

The study argues that self-administered questionnaires and the health visitor reports tended to provide an overestimation of the:

  • Exclusivity of breastfeeding;
  • Timing of the introduction of complimentary foods; and
  • Proportion of mothers not initiating breastfeeding – surprisingly so.

It concludes with the recommendation that more regular data collection methods (e.g. text messages used at an interval of 1-2 weeks) can provide a more accurate measure of breast and infant feeding.

Help us help Southend

  • Do you feel that text messaging would provide a more accurate picture of infant feeding? What other measures might be used to collect this?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

Fathers’ Impact on Breastfeeding (Diet and Nutrition)

Title: Saunkaria, ML. Barolia, DK. Rachhoya, P. Chaher, CK. And Sengar, GS. (2017), A hospital-based study of knowledge and attitude of expectant fathers regarding breastfeeding, Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences, vol. 16 (9). pp. 38-47

Research source: http://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jdms/papers/Vol16-issue9/Version-2/J1609023847.pdf

Publication date: September 2017

Our Summary: This study was conducted with 1,000 expectant fathers (first time and subsequent) who were recruited through early years’ services. The focus was on fathers’ knowledge and attitudes in relation to breastfeeding.

They concluded that understanding father’s attitudes is one of the most important variables in terms of children’s outcomes as they are pivotal in promoting a positive attitude to breastfeeding, and that:

  • Expectant fathers who had previous children, and had less experience of deprivation had more knowledge of breastfeeding and weaning than those who did not; and

There were some areas of concern including lack of awareness in terms of the correct time to initiate breastfeeding, as well as introducing solids.

Help us help Southend

  • How can we support fathers in terms of breastfeeding and introducing solids knowledge?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

Evaluation of Free Market Universal Parenting Education (Social and Emotional Development)

Title: Cullen, SM. Cullen, MA. and Lindsay, G. (2017), The CANparent trial—the delivery of universal parenting education in England, British Educational Research Journal, Vol. 43 (4), pp. 759–780

Research source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/berj.3282/full

Publication date: August 2017

Our summary: The CANparent trial (government initiative which supported universal parenting education in England) took place in 2012-2014. It looked to avoid the possibility of the stigmatisation from targeted services for parents of children aged 0-5 years. This research looked to examine the effectiveness of using a quasi-market model (public sector funding and administration which also uses private sector methods) for this purpose. This was in the form of £100 vouchers which could be used in exchange for booking a parenting activity. The evaluation sought views from providers and parents and among its findings were:

  • The take-up of the programme fell short of its proposed outcomes (only 6% of eligible parents attended compared to the proposed 40%);
  • The current government has indicated that a voucher driven delivery model should be taken – this is despite the mixed results from the CANparent trial; and
  • Consideration needs to be given to the level of funding made available to providers (e.g. higher levels of funding to support start-up costs)


Help us help Southend

  • What can be learned about the take-up of the CANparent trial?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

Infant-directed Speech and ASD (Communications and Language)

Title: Filipe, MG. Watson, L. Vicente, SG. and Frota, S. (2017), Atypical preference for infant-directed speech as an early marker of autism spectrum disorders? A literature review and directions for further research, Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, edoi/full/10.1080/02699206.2017.1342694

Research source: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02699206.2017.1342694

Publication date: July 2017

Our summary: This literature review looks at whether an untypical preference for infant-directed speech (e.g. longer pauses between words, and shorter sentences) is a possible indicator of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This it is argued is a promising new area in the research, within a background where early identification, diagnosis and activities are already enabling improved long term outcomes.

The review argues that existing research is inconsistent in terms of low and high risk infants and as yet has not shown whether there is a difference in those that go onto diagnosis. It is also not clear as to whether a preference for speech stimulus occurs in early infancy or whether this develops more slowly. In summary the evidence in terms of infant-direct speech is currently limited.

The authors argue on this basis that more prospective studies that compare family history/no family history as well as other groups in terms of infant-directed speech should be carried out. This, it is also recommended, should also include behavioural assessments and screening in order to answer the question of why there appears to be a reduction in attention to such speech in those diagnosed.

Help us help Southend

  • How can we further support parents in using infant-directed speech? How can we support families whilst they are undergoing the diagnosis process?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@pre-school.org.uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *