Need for debate on when babies should eat solids

July 31, 2013, University of Adelaide

A University of Adelaide researcher says it's time for Australia's health authorities to rethink advice on how long women breastfeed their children exclusively.

Dr Brian Symon, Clinical Senior Lecturer in General Practice at the University of Adelaide and an expert on young children's , says there is growing evidence to suggest that exclusive breastfeeding may not provide enough nutrition for all children from four months of age.

Currently in Australia, recommend that women exclusively breastfeed in the first six months of their baby's life. These are based on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

Speaking in the lead up to World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August), Dr Symon says he became concerned about the issue because he was seeing a large number of young children with sleeping, feeding and problems.

He led a two-year, self-funded study to review all research into breastfeeding to better understand the problem.

"Breastfeeding is extremely important for children's early life, but there is evidence that the emphasis on exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months may be linked to certain health problems," Dr Symon says.

"This includes the rapid increase in food allergies among children, which is a major and growing problem in our society. Some studies suggest that delaying the introduction of solids is contributing to this problem.

"One of my biggest concerns as a GP is the impact that emphasising exclusive breastfeeding has on the mother's confidence, self-esteem and general wellbeing. Postnatal depression is reported to exist in up to 15% of Australian mothers. As a clinician working with on a daily basis, it is evident that some women are unable to meet the full energy needs of their child from their own milk.

"Children who do not start receiving complementary solids from four months of age are often hungry, sleepless and upset."

Dr Symon says there is for the benefits of breastfeeding, "but limited evidence that these benefits are amplified by making it exclusive".

"It's time we revisited the national recommendations to provide the best possible health advice for parents," he says.

Explore further: Moms need help to overcome breastfeeding worries, study says

Related Stories

Moms need help to overcome breastfeeding worries, study says

July 11, 2013
More support is needed to help women overcome doubts in the hope that they will breastfeed their babies for longer, says a University of Alberta nutrition researcher.

Breastfeeding duration appears associated with intelligence later in life

July 29, 2013
Breastfeeding longer is associated with better receptive language at 3 years of age and verbal and nonverbal intelligence at age 7 years, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics.

Can breastfeeding protect against ADHD?

May 14, 2013
Breastfeeding has a positive impact on the physical and mental development of infants. A new study suggests that breastfeeding may protect against the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) later in ...

Breastfeeding protects against asthma up to six years of age

February 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Research by the University of Otago in Christchurch and Wellington has shown that breastfeeding of infants has a clear protective effect against children developing asthma or wheezing up to six years of ...

Breastfed children are less likely to develop ADHD later in life, research finds

July 22, 2013
We know that breastfeeding has a positive impact on child development and health —including protection against illness. Now researchers from Tel Aviv University have shown that breastfeeding could also help protect against ...

AAP reaffirms breastfeeding policy

February 27, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Breastfeeding should be considered a basic health issue, rather than a lifestyle choice, and as such, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its recommendations for exclusive breastfeeding for a ...

Recommended for you

The effects of happiness and sadness on children's snack consumption

February 19, 2018
A University of Texas at Dallas psychologist has examined the preconceptions about the effects of emotions on children's eating habits, creating the framework for future studies of how dietary patterns evolve in early childhood.

Cycle of infant reflux signals a call to help mothers

February 14, 2018
Western Sydney University research has found that first-time mothers with mental health issues – in particular, maternal anxiety – are five times as likely to have their baby noted as having reflux when admitted to hospital.

Safe-sleep recommendations for infants have not reduced sudden deaths in newborns

February 14, 2018
An analysis of trends in sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) over the past two decades finds that the drop in such deaths that took place following release of the 1992 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) "back to sleep" ...

Most children with sickle cell anemia not receiving key medication to stay healthy

February 13, 2018
One of the greatest health threats to children with sickle cell anemia is getting a dangerous bacterial infection—but most are not receiving a key medication to reduce the risk, a new study suggests.

Premature babies' low blood pressure puzzle explained

February 13, 2018
Scientists have discovered crucial new information about how a foetus develops which could explain why very premature babies suffer low blood pressure and other health problems.

Babies face higher SIDS risk in certain states

February 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) claims the lives of some 3,500 babies in the United States each year, but its toll is far heavier in some states than others, health officials report.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.