Part 2: Pediatric Nutrition - From the womb to 1000 days!

Date: Thursday, February 25, 2021  
Chairs: Stephanie Atkinson PhD, McMaster University and Geneviève Mailhot PhD, Université de Montréal

The first 1000 days of life span the period from conception to 24 months of age and represent a “critical window of opportunity” for healthy nutrition and development as well as protection for later onset of non-communicable diseases (Darling JC, et al. Arch Dis Child 2020). Maternal nutrition during pregnancy and/or early infant nutrition are key factors in the “programming” of fetal and infant growth and development, including gene expression and cell differentiation that influence development of non-communicable diseases. As examples of these concepts, this session will explore the role of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) in early infant development and the importance of vitamin D status in pregnancy and early childhood in relation to clinical outcomes. A panel will discuss the existing evidence for regulations pertaining to HMOs in infant feeding and guidelines regarding vitamin D, and the potential implications of updating these regulations. 

Conference objectives:

Draft program - Subject to change

Time (EST) Topic Speaker / Moderator
12:00 - 12:10 Introduction: Why are the first 1000 days an important start to life? Stephanie A. Atkinson, PhD, DSc (Hon), FCAHS, FASN- McMaster University
View Bio
Geneviève Mailhot, PhD, RD - Université Montréal
View Bio
Session 1: Human Milk Oligosaccharides in Infant Health and Nutrition - Chair: Dr. Stephanie Atkinson
12:10 - 12:40 Human milk oligosaccharides and the gut microbiome 
View Description & Learning Objectives +/-


Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) are increasingly recognized to promoting health and prevent disease in the breastfed newborn. Evidence will be presented showing that HMO derived from pooled donor breast milk and synthetic products mimicking constituents of HMO prevent intestinal injury in a pre-clinical (mouse pup) model of necrotizing enterocolitis. The effects are mediated, at least in part, via HMO mediated enhancement of mucosal innate immunity (mucin production).

Learning Objectives:

  1. Address the role of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) in shaping the gut microbiota
  2. Consider some pre-clinical science supporting the use of HMOs to prevent intestinal injury
Philip M. Sherman, MD, FRCPC - Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto
View Bio
12:40 - 13:10

Milk & Microbes: Human milk oligosaccharides, infant gut microbiota and health trajectories in the CHILD Cohort Study 

View Description & Learning Objectives +/-


The CHILD Cohort Study ( is following 3500 Canadian families from pregnancy onwards to understand the developmental origins of chronic diseases. We have shown that breastfeeding is associated with reduced risks of childhood asthma, and these beneficial effects appear to be partly mediated by the infant gut microbiome. Current research in the Azad lab ( is focused on understanding how breastfeeding practices and breast milk components (including microbes and oligosaccharides) shape the developing infant nasal and gut microbiomes and contribute to health and disease trajectories. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Provide an overview of the CHILD Cohort Study as a clinical research platform for the investigation of maternal/infant nutrition, human milk composition, gut microbiota and infant/child health
  2. Discuss CHILD research demonstrating associations between human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and infant gut microbiota in breastfed infants
  3. Discuss CHILD research demonstrating associations between HMOs and atopic sensitization in breastfed infants
Meghan Azad, PhD - University of Manitoba, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba
View Bio
13:10 - 13:30 Q&A
Dr. Stephanie A. Atkinson
13:30 - 13:40 Break  
Session 2: Understanding the Health Canada Regulatory Process
13:40 - 14:10

Understanding the Health Canada Regulatory Process

Moderated by:  Dr. Stephanie Atkinson 

Speaker: Lynne Underhill, BSc.(Agr), MSc. - Chief, Nutrition Premarket Assessment Division, Health Canada

View bios

14:10 - 14:20 Break  
Session 3:  Vitamin D and health outcomes from pregnancy to toddlers: Where are we now? - Chair: Dr. Geneviève Mailhot
14:20 - 14:50 Vitamin D in fetal and early life: How much is enough and too much? 
View Description & Learning Objectives +/-


Globally, vitamin D deficiency has been claimed as ‘public health problem’ of particular significance in pregnant women due to its association with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as insulin resistance, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes mellitus. In infants, exposure to maternal vitamin D deficiency in utero is associated with preterm birth and fetal growth restriction, and during early infancy it has been associated with rickets, asthma and possibly autism. Despite this knowledge, it is uncertain as to the extent to which vitamin D deficiency exists in Canada in pregnant women and infants and the clinical consequences. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss current understanding of the functional role of vitamin D in fetal and early life.
  2. Review knowledge of vitamin D intakes and status of Canadian pregnant women, infants and young toddlers. 
  3. Propose approaches for ensuring optimal vitamin D status in Canadian women and their offspring.  

Stephanie A. Atkinson, PhD, DSc (Hon), FCAHS - McMaster University

14:50 - 15:20 Vitamin D in childhood asthma and respiratory infections: where are we now?
View Description & Learning Objectives +/-

Over the past years, vitamin D has received considerable attention for its extra-skeletal actions. The immunomodulation impact of vitamin D is being increasing explored in several inflammatory conditions, including asthma and respiratory infections.  Childhood asthma, an inflammatory condition that is frequently exacerbated by respiratory infections, appears as a condition that could particularly benefit from vitamin D supplementation. This presentation addresses the recent mechanistic and clinical evidence exploring the potential impact of vitamin D in respiratory infections and childhood asthma, and highlights ongoing clinical research to clarify its role. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore the potential mechanistic evidence for a role of vitamin D in asthma and respiratory infection
  2. Review the evidence derived from observational trials and supplementation trials
  3. Recognize the remaining gaps in knowledge and ongoing trials to address them
Francine M. Ducharme, MD M.Sc., FRCP (c) - Université Montréal
View Bio
15:20 - 15:40 Q&A Dr. Geneviève Mailhot
15:40- 15:50 Break  
Session 4: Structured panel discussion
15:50 - 16:20

Vitamin D food fortification to improve vitamin D intake of Canadian mothers and toddlers: Are we doing enough?

Panel Learning Objectives:

  1. Explain Health Canada's mandate to expand fortification to a broader range of products and how this relates to the new Canada's Food Guide
  2. Discuss considerations in selecting foods that are fortified with vitamin D
  3. Understand the new Percentage Daily Value (%DV) and how it aligns with changes in fortification policy

Moderated by:  Dr. Geneviève Mailhot

Speakers: Dr. Francine Ducharme, Dr. Stephanie Atkinson, Chantal Martineau, RD - Head of the Nutrition Composition Section, Nutrition Regulations and Standards Division, Health Canada

View Bios

16:20 - 16:30 Closing Remarks Dr. Stephanie Atkinson
Dr. Geneviève Mailhot

Go to registration


© 2022 CNS-SCN - Canadian Nutrition Society