Most Babies are Fed Solid Food Too Soon, Study Finds

Most Babies are Fed Solid Food Too Soon, Study Finds

Most Babies are Fed Solid Food Too Soon, Study Finds

Most mothers may be starting their infants

on solid foods months sooner than specialists recommend, mistakenly believing

their children are old enough to graduate from breast milk or formula – but

many say they’re simply following doctors’ orders, according to a study

published today.

should wait until their little ones are at least 6 months old before offering

them solid foods, say many child-nutrition experts, including the American

Academy of Pediatrics.

Parents

researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – who surveyed

1,334 new moms – discovered that almost 93 percent of those women had

introduced solid foods to their infants before 6 months, that 40 percent did it

before the 4-month mark, and that 9 percent had offered solids to their babies

before they were even four weeks old, according to the study, published today

in Pediatrics.

But

percent said that their health care provider told them it was time to introduce

solid food,” said Kelley Scanlon, a co-author of the study and lead

epidemiologist in the nutrition branch in the division of nutrition, physical

activity and obesity at the CDC.

“Fifty

for us, indicates that health care providers need to provide clearer guidance

and really support women in carrying out the recommendation,” Scanlon said.

“That,

groups settled on the 6-month cut-off after earlier research determined that

children who get solid food at too early might be at a greater risk for

developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac

disease, Scanlon said.

Physicians'

mothers who volunteered for the CDC study filled out food diaries and

questionnaires designed to ferret out their opinions on why and when solid

foods should be offered.

The

moms offering solid foods to infants younger than 4 months, the most commonly

cited reasons for doing so included: “My baby was old enough;” “My baby seemed

hungry;” “I wanted to feed my baby something in addition to breast milk or

formula,” “My baby wanted the food I ate;” “A doctor or other health care

professional said my baby should begin eating solid food;” and “It would help

my baby sleep longer at night,” researchers reported.

Among the

more, moms who fed their babies formula were far more likely to start solids

too early versus those who exclusively breast-fed (53 percent versus 24

percent), the study showed.

What’s

expert unaffiliated with the CDC study suggested that some health-care

providers may simply be unfamiliar with current baby-feeding recommendations.

One food

this is worrisome,” said Ann Condon-Meyers, a pediatric dietician at the

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“I think it may show that word isn’t getting out that … it is 6 months before

solid foods should be offered.”

“I think

the study’s findings didn’t surprise Condon-Meyers, who added: “I work in

pediatrics and we see a lot of early introduction of solid foods when we do

patient histories.”

Still,

addition to possibly boosting, a child’s risk for contracting certain chronic

diseases, introducing solid foods too early often means babies don’t drink an

adequate amount of breast milk or formula, and that can translate into poorer

nutrition, Condon-Meyers said.

In

milk and formula have all the nutrients and vitamins a baby needs and in the

right proportions, Condon-Meyers said.

Breast

start giving solid food too early then you are diluting the nutritional

intake,” she said. “You’re getting more calories, but less of the nutrients a

baby needs to grow.”

“If you

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