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Toddlers in Auckland will be offered a supplemented milk drink as part of a study that aims to reduce serious infection and improve child learning.
The research, undertaken by Auckland University and Tamaki Healthcare, will provide parents of children aged 12 to 18 months with nutrition advice and a milk drink containing vitamins and minerals.
The health and learning of the children will then be monitored. This project will lead to a larger trial which will set out to establish if improving children's nutrition can increase their learning ability and reduce serious infections, such as pneumonia and gastroenteritis.
"New Zealand has a poor record with pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses, with one of the highest rates of children admitted to hospital in the developed world," Associate Professor Cameron Grant of the university's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences said.
"We are hoping that by improving the nutrition of children at a young age, we will be able to reduce potentially life-threatening infections, and increase the children's ability to learn."
Information about the project is being made available to potential participants through the Tamaki Healthcare general practices.