EFSA OKs Thiamin (Vitamin B1) Health Claim for Child Development

February 14, 2011

The agency's expert panel supports the claim that thiamin "contributes to the maintenance of normal neurological development and function.”

The European Food Safety Authority’s (Parma, Italy) Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) is giving a green light to HiPP GmbH’s petition for a health claim relating to thiamin (vitamin B1) and infant/child brain development.

The German baby food manufacturer proposed the claim “thiamin in the diet is necessary for the normal development and function of the neurological system,” intended for a target population of infants and children up to three years old.

HiPP GmbH submitted two human intervention studies, seven observational studies, three reviews and one medical position paper on thiamin in infant formula, four opinions of “authoritative/scientific” bodies, and five textbook chapters relating to the claim, according to the NDA. The panel classified the claim under “maintenance of normal neurological development and function.”

“It is well recognized that the clinical signs of thiamin deficiency include mental changes, such as apathy, decrease in short-term memory, confusion and irritability as well as polyneuritis and paralysis of the peripheral nerves,” said the NDA in its published opinion. The panel affirmed a cause and effect relationship of thiamin and its claim, also noting that thiamin’s role extends beyond infant and early children’s health.

The NDA concluded its position by stating that the following claim reflects the submitted scientific evidence: “Thiamin contributes to the maintenance of normal neurological development and function.”