Sources and correlates of sodium consumption in the first 2 years of life.J Acad Nutr Diet 2014; 114(10):1525-1532.e2JA
High sodium intake during infancy and early childhood can change salt preference and blood pressure trajectories across life, representing a modifiable cardiovascular risk factor. Describing young children's sodium intake is important for informing effective targets for sodium reduction.
This study aimed to describe food sources and demographic and behavioral correlates of sodium intake in 295 young Australian children using three unscheduled 24-hour recalls (when children were 9 and then 18 months of age) with mothers participating within an existing randomized controlled trial, the Melbourne Infant Feeding Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT) Program.
Differences in individual-level and family-level demographic and behavioral variables were assessed across tertiles of sodium density (mg/1,000 kcal). Descriptive statistics were used to describe food-group contributions to total energy and sodium intakes at both ages.
Mean sodium intake was 486 mg (standard deviation=232 mg) at 9 months and had more than doubled to 1,069 mg (standard deviation=331 mg) at 18 months of age. Fifty-four percent of children at 18 months exceeded the Recommended Daily Upper Level for sodium intake, with bread, cheese, breakfast cereal, soup, and mixed dishes all important sources of sodium at both ages. Yeast extracts, processed meats, and bread products became important additional sources at 18 months. A greater proportion of children in the highest sodium-density tertile had ceased breastfeeding and had commenced solids at an earlier age.
The key food sources of sodium for children younger than 2 years are those that contribute to the whole population's high salt burden and highlight the essential role governments and food industry must play to reduce salt in commonly consumed foods.