Dietary guidelines for birthing people and young children advanced

Written by: Samantha Espinoza
Date Posted: January 17, 2020

For the first time, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will include advice for pregnant and lactating people and young children from birth to 24 months. The committee responsible for updating these guidelines is in the process of reviewing evidence and public comment as they develop their recommendations. On Wednesday, the Children’s Campaign submitted comments to the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) to help inform their work as they develop these vital guidelines.

We know how important the prenatal period is for birthing parents and their children. With the right nutritional and dietary recommendations, these groups can mitigate their risk of experiencing some chronic diseases later in life. The DGAC formed subcommittees to focus on specific categories such as Pregnancy and Lactation, Beverages and Added Sugars, Dietary Fats and Seafood, and Birth to 24 Months.

Some of our recommendations to the Pregnancy and Lactation subcommittee asked the DGAC to:

  • Acknowledge that a healthy dietary pattern before and during pregnancy helps to support a healthy pregnancy and optimal birth outcomes.
  • Review the best available evidence that advises women to consume a similar dietary pattern during pregnancy as recommended by the 2015 DGA for the general U.S. adult population.
  • Clarify the metrics for the recommended daily caloric intake and protein intake a lactating person should consume and advise accordingly.

Some of our recommendations to the Beverages and Added Sugars subcommittee asked the DGAC to:

  • Adopt expert recommendations for pregnant people to avoid consuming soda and other sugary drinks to prevent excessive energy intake during pregnancy.
  • Clarify the updated recommendation around “pump and dump,” as it is now suggested to wait two hours following alcohol consumption before breastfeeding.

Some of our recommendations to the Dietary Fats and Seafood subcommittee asked the DGAC to:

  • Consider both minimizing the harms of mercury exposure and maximizing the nutritional benefits of seafood. It is known that with proper guidance, consumers can meet omega-3 needs and minimize mercury exposure, while still enjoying familiar and affordable seafood during pregnancy and lactation.

Lastly, our recommendations to the Birth to 24 Months subcommittee asked the DGAC to:

  • Refrain from recommending formula feeding unless there are true medical needs that outweigh the benefits of donor milk and instead, recommend the safer option—safe, tested donor breastmilk.
  • Endorse existing authoritative guidelines for feeding infants and toddlers to aid caregivers as they choose the food type and amount for their infants or toddlers.
  • Consider recommendations from authoritative health organizations and experts in addition to its own findings from DGAC’s systematic review when making recommendations regarding specific foods and beverages that should be limited in the first two years of life.
Samantha Espinoza

About Samantha Espinoza

Sam joined the Colorado Children’s Campaign staff as a Policy Analyst after serving as their Government Affairs Intern while completing her MSW at the University of Denver. Her portfolio of policy issues includes child health, family planning and maternal and infant mental health. Sam is a military veteran whose greater part of professional experience is grounded in research, advocacy and supporting children who face adversity.