This work is funded by the Health Research Board of Ireland for three years to explore healthy infant feeding behaviours.
Background to the CHErIsH study:
Childhood overweight obesity is an important public health concern with significant health, psychosocial and economic consequences. Early infant feeding practices (aged 0-2 years), including when and how parents introduce solid foods to infants, can impact overweight and obesity in childhood and later life.
The overall aim of this research is to develop, implement and evaluate a pilot complex intervention to promote healthy infant feeding practices in primary care. A team of researchers from UCC, NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin are currently working together in partnership with policymakers and practitioners including Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre to address 4 main objectives:
- To evaluate the financial costs of childhood overweight and obesity in Ireland, and its impact on the current and future health and well-being of children and their families in Ireland.
- To compile information from existing studies on the influence of early infant feeding practices on child outcomes.
- To increase our understanding of infant feeding practices in Ireland, and ways we may be able to help enhance these, via interviews with parents and health care workers.
- To develop and test an intervention for primary care to increase healthy early infant feeding practices, with a goal of improving childhood obesity outcomes.
To achieve these aims, the project consists of three sequential work packages to be conducted over the lifetime of the project:
Work package 1 aims involves:
- Modelling the physical, psychological and economic costs of childhood obesity
- Systematic review and qualitative evidence syntheses of interventions to influence early feeding practices
Work package 2 involves:
- Exploring the feasibility of an infant feeding intervention in primary care
- Identifying and developing theory to inform intervention development
- Examining the costs of including intervention in routine immunisation visits
Work package 3 aims involves:
- Pilot testing the intervention to promote healthy early infant feeding practices
- Economic evaluation of pilot intervention
- Process evaluation of intervention
At present, we are in Work Package 2 – developing the intervention. We are currently recruiting healthcare providers to take part in individual interviews, and also parents and primary caregivers of young children (0-2) to take part in focus groups. The information and experiences provided will help shape the development of an infant feeding intervention for primary care in Ireland.