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Study Reports Parents Feeding Infants Solid Foods Too Soon

Update Date: Mar 25, 2013 11:05 AM EDT

According to a new study, babies might be consuming solid foods too early in life, jeopardizing their health. A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that parents often do not follow the recommended age of introducing babies to solid food, which is after six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics set the recommended age because the organization believes that giving babies solid foods before they turn six months can lead to a higher risk for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

In this report, the CDC surveyed 1,334 first time mothers and found that roughly 93 percent of them introduced their babies to solid foods before they were reached six months old. The survey also discovered that 40 percent of new mothers gave solid foods to babies under four months and nine percent gave solid foods to infants under four weeks old. The researchers stated that the possible factors that contributed to the early introduction of solid foods include age, wealth, and education. The researchers found that mothers who were poorer, younger, and less educated tended to feed their babies solid foods earlier. The researchers noted that formula tends to be more expensive than solid foods. However, costs might not be the only reason why mothers switch from milk to solid foods.

"Fifty per cent said that their health care provider told them it was time to introduce solid food. That, for us, indicates that health care providers need to provide clearer guidance and really support women in carrying out the recommendation," Kelley Scanlon, the lead author of the study, stated. Scanlon is also the lead epidemiologist in the nutrition branch of the nutrition, physical activity and obesity division with the CDC.

Many of the new mothers cited their health care providers as the reason why they switched from milk to solids so soon. On top of that, many new mothers also stated that their babies appeared to be hungry and needed solid foods. The study also found that mothers who gave solid foods earlier also did not breastfeed. Roughly 53 percent of mothers who used formula switched over to solid foods faster, where as only 24 percent of mothers who breastfed did the same.

This study raises concern regarding the lack of nutrition babies might suffer from due to the early transition of diet. Milk provides a lot of benefits for developing babies, and by switching foods early on the babies might lose some of the vital nutrients from milk. Thus, the CDC stresses that mothers follow the guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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