March 25th, 2013
02:36 PM ET
Too-early solid food could lead to problems for babies
At least 40% of moms are feeding their infants solid foods far too early, according a new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, and that may lead to problems for their children later in life.
Researchers wanted to know how many babies were being fed solid foods (including cereal and baby food) sooner than recommended, whether breast-feeding or formula feeding made a difference and why solids were being introduced early. When the study began in 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which also publishes the journal Pediatrics, recommended introducing solid foods when babies were between 4 and 6 months old.
In 2012, the AAP changed those recommendations. Now it says babies shouldn't be eating solid food until they are about 6 months old.
Study and findings
As part of the two-year study, 1,334 mothers filed out monthly questionnaires about what their babies ate during the last week, says Kelley Scanlon, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and one of the study authors. Scientists then analyzed the data reported by the mothers to determine at which age babies were being fed solid food.
They found 539 moms, or 40% of moms, gave their babies solid food early. Previous studies had put that estimate at 19% and 29%. Researchers believe based on this study, they may actually be underestimating how many moms introduce solids early because the study was more likely to have older, more educated and higher income moms participating. "Mothers of lower socioeconomic status are at a higher risk of early solid food introduction," the study says.
Giving your baby solid food too soon has been linked to a higher risk of obesity and diabetes, according to the study. Also, "starting infants on solids before 4 months can lead to allergies and eczema," says Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician and AAP spokeswoman who was not involved in the research.
Among the 539 moms who did introduce solids early, nearly 1 in 10 gave their babies solids before they were 4 weeks old.
Researchers found formula-fed infants were about twice as likely to be introduced to solids early, compared to only breast-fed babies.
Moms were also given 12 reasons to choose from to explain why they introduced solid food early. Among the top answers:
Scanlon cautioned that this last point reflected a perception that health care professionals were recommending when to start an infant on solids; researchers couldn't actually confirm that's what a doctor or nurse actually said.
Shu says she was surprised by the findings, but notes that some doctors and nurses may have been trained at a time when babies were fed solids earlier and says it's hard to change behaviors when medical information changes so quickly.
"There's a lack of awareness of what the recommendations are," Scanlon says, adding babies are not developmentally ready for solid food before they are 4 months old.
Some of these moms are getting information on when to feed their babies solids "from generations (ex. grandparents, nurses, friends) who may have started their babies on solids at an earlier age," suggests Shu.
According to the latest AAP recommendations, moms are supposed to exclusively breast-feed their babies until they are about 6 months old if possible, so babies can reap all the benefits of mother's milk including extra immune protection and possible protection for future chronic illnesses like obesity and type II diabetes.
Every baby develops at a slightly different pace, but there are some signs to look for to help parents figure out if their child is ready for solids:
Parents need clear and accurate guidance on when to introduce solid food to their babies, and pediatricians and health care professionals need to support them, says Scanlon, by explaining to the parents that crying doesn't always mean the baby is hungry - it could also be wet, sick or lonely.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
You are so awesome! I do not think I have read anything like this before. So good to find another person with some genuine thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with some originality!
You have made some decent points there. I checked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.
Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It's the little changes which will make the most significant changes. Many thanks for sharing!
The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn't disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I really believed you would probably have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.
Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post. Thank you for supplying this info.
Iím amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog thatís both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I found this during my search for something concerning this.
This is a topic that is close to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?
This is a topic that's near to my heart... Thank you! Exactly where are your contact details though?
Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through difficulties with your RSS. I donít know why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having the same RSS issues? Anyone that knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanks!!
I'm more than happy to uncover this website. I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every part of it and I have you bookmarked to see new stuff on your site.
Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be useful to read content from other writers and use something from their web sites.
Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thanks, However I am encountering problems with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!
Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your site is useful. Many thanks for sharing!
bookmarked!!, I like your web site!
You have made some decent points there. I checked on the internet to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.
I enjoy reading through an article that will make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!
Good day! I just want to offer you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you've got right here on this post. I will be returning to your site for more soon.
Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the website is very good.
An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner simply because I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this subject here on your web page.
Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?
I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked
hard on. Any recommendations?
Hello, There's no doubt that your website could possibly be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, great site!
Good article! We will be linking to this particularly great content on our website. Keep up the good writing.
You need to be a part of a contest for one of the best sites on the net. I will recommend this web site!
Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe this website needs much more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the info!
You're so cool! I don't suppose I have read through anything like this before. So great to discover somebody with some original thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!
Itís difficult to find knowledgeable people about this subject, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
I really like it when folks come together and share opinions. Great site, continue the good work!