The role of maternal and infant nutrition on childhood mental health

The challenge

One in seven young Australians aged between 4 – 17 years old experience a mental health condition, which is equivalent to an estimated 560,000 Australian children and adolescents.

Research suggests that diet may be linked to the development of mental health conditions in children and adolescents, however further research is needed to determine whether diet modification can benefit mental health.

Our research aims to determine whether a Mediterranean type diet that is rich in fibre and omega-3 fats can prevent or reduce the severity of symptoms associated with mental illness when implemented during pregnancy, early childhood or adolescence. We will use an experimental approach to determine the timing and duration of the diet intervention and its effects on behaviour, cognition, immune function and the microbiome.

Our findings will help inform when and how we can act to improve or prevent mental illness in children.