Early metabolic health
The most important factor for a lifetime of health and well-being is healthy growth and development in the first two years of life. TNO’s team of experts supports our partners and clients to develop tools, healthy nutrition, medicines, guidelines and support for young children and those who keep them healthy. Based on extensive evidence-based research, TNO finds solutions to key early life development challenges.
Multidisciplinary Scientific approach
Laying the right foundations for a healthy life is complex. So TNO has brought together the expertise of scientists and developers in the fields of nutrition, behavioural science, technology, and biomedical research to create a robust holistic approach to optimising child health. The team explores the connection between a child’s physical, social, and psychological challenges when it comes to ensuring healthy development, preventing disease, and developing cures. Our biomedical research is driven by our increasing understanding of the mechanisms that underlie health and disease.
Innovative product development
Backed by years of experience, TNO assists in the development and validation of a variety of tools, support systems, and applications that focus on child health. From development trackers like D-score (pdf) to our experimental platforms and clinical studies that lead to optimised infant nutrition. And from group support to tools for doctors and parents (digital parent support services). TNO can offer data-driven, evidence-based solutions that optimise early development. TNO also has the research facilities, scientific knowledge and expertise to conduct in vitro, ex vivo, and in silico studies that advance product development and ensure safe and effective treatments.
Increasing the health impact of early life nutrition
One of our aims is to help companies develop infant nutrition and its positive health effects. Companies strive to add ingredients that have a health-supporting effect and that approach the composition and biological functionality of human milk. But product development that focuses on adding scientifically substantiated health effects requires specific expertise in various fields and a great deal of research.
By means of innovative technology and insights into the mechanisms underlying health and disease, we can contribute to the accelerated and innovative development of healthy nutrition for young children. With our research – which focuses on five themes: intestinal health, obesity, immunity, the brain, and healthy growth and development – we support the food industry in producing foods for infants and young children that support healthy growth and development.
Examples of research and expertise per theme
• Gut health: research on the uptake and metabolism of food ingredients, HMO's and medication, protection against infection and inflammation, and the healthy interplay between the microbiome and metabolic and immune processes.
• Obesity: knowledge of nutrition and nutrients to support metabolic health, identification of the risk of unhealthy (weight) development, translational model systems to demonstrate the effects of interventions, strategies for obesity prevention and personalised advice.
• Immunity: prevention of infection, inflammation and tissue damage, induction of tolerance and prevention of allergy, analysis of the risks and efficacy of food ingredients, in-situ modelling of immunological processes, and targets for effective support or intervention.
• Brain: research on the effect of nutrition and psychosocial processes on development and cognitive functions of the brain, body-brain interaction in metabolic and immune processes, identification of bioactive substances that influence brain functionality.
• Healthy growth and development: development and application of growth curves, D-score (pdf), iGrow apps, prenatal group care centering, guideline knowledge on healthy nutrition and eating behaviour, adequate macro/micronutrient composition of infant/child nutrition.
Achieving better children's health together
TNO helps partners such as private industry, universities, healthcare, public authorities, and NGOs to develop innovative solutions. Through private, proprietary projects and public/private partnerships (pdf), we aim to accelerate development in all aspects of early life development and ensure that every child has the best possible start in life, and that every parent, paediatrician, product developer, and caregiver has the tools and support they need to ensure healthy early life development. We work in co-creation with our stakeholders for optimal solutions, whether the goal is competitive advantage, marketing optimisation, or wide-scale community support.
Driving innovation forward
Building on our solid research and stakeholder networks, we are ready to develop the solutions of tomorrow. If you are interested in developing products, services, tools, or techniques aimed at improving early life development, then don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out more.
Geert HoubenFunctie:Professor Food-borne Risk Factors for Allergic and Inflammatory Diseases
UMC Utrecht and TNO collaborate in research on food-borne risk factors for allergic and inflammatory diseases. We develop and apply methods to identify and characterize food-borne risk factors that influence the inflammatory state of our body.
Robert KleemannFunctie:Principal Scientist
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