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Birth-24 Overview

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) provide evidence-based advice for making food and physical activity choices that help people attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health. The DGA has traditionally focused on adults and children 2 years of age and older because of the unique nutritional needs, eating patterns, and developmental stages of infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months of age. In recent years, there has been a growing demand both within and outside of government for the DGA to include infants and toddlers. In response to these requests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have initiated a project to develop guidance for this important age group. The goals for this project are to:
  • Develop comprehensive guidance for the birth to 24 month age group;
  • Use a rigorous and transparent process informed by a broad range of experts in the field of infant and toddler nutrition and health; and
  • Provide foundational guidance for the birth to 24 month age group that can be incorporated and updated in future editions of the DGA, beginning in 2020.
See also: "Birth to 24 Months and Pregnant Women Dietary Guidance Development Project"

The USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL), which specializes in conducting food and nutrition-related systematic reviews that are used to inform Federal government decision-making, played a key role in the first completed phase of the project. During this phase, four expert work groups convened by HHS and USDA selected the most relevant topics to be addressed, developed focused systematic review questions, and identified research needs. The rationale and NEL methodology for identifying topics and developing systematic review questions implemented as part of this project are detailed in the following publications, along with a detailed description of the topics, questions, and research/data needs that were identified::
Raiten DJ, Raghavan R, Porter A, Obbagy JE, Spahn JS. Executive summary: evaluating the evidence base to support the inclusion of infants and children from birth to 24 mo of age in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans—"the B-24 Project." Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;99 663S-691S.

Obbagy JE, Blum-Kemelor DM, Essery EV, Lyon JMG, Spahn JM. USDA Nutrition Evidence Library: Methodology used to identify topics and develop systematic review questions for the birth-24 month population. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014; 99:1-5.
Click here for listing of additonal related articles on B-24 Project.

Topic Areas & Systematic Review Questions
The expert work groups identified important nutrition topics to inform dietary guidance for infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months of age. A topic is considered to be within scope, and therefore appropriate for a NEL systematic review, if it addresses a food and nutrition issue that will inform public health action to: 1) promote population health or well-being, and/or 2) reduce the significant burden of avoidable disease in the U.S. population as a whole or in specific population subgroups. A topic is considered to be important when the results of a systematic review(s) stimulated by the topic are likely to: 1) contribute to the development of dietary guidance for infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months of age, 2) inform decisions about Federal public health food and nutrition policies and programs or 3) represent an area of high public health concern, uncertainty, and/or a knowledge gap that is critical to public health policy. The topics were grouped according to the age of the population of interest (i.e., 0 – 6 months, 6 – 12 months and 12 – 24 months) as well as including one topic area related to caregivers.