Giving formula fed infants solid foods before four months may increase the risk that they become obese toddlers, a new research from the Children’s Hospital Boston reports. The study, which looked at more than 840 children, found that infants who had been fed baby food before their were four months old had a significant increase in obesity by the time they were three years old.
Surprisingly, infants who were breastfed saw no increase in obesity related to how soon they began solids. Still, researchers say parents should wait the recommended four to six months before starting any infant on solid foods.
“One possible reason why we saw an association among formula-fed but not breastfed infants is that formula-fed infants may increase their energy intake when solids are introduced,” they wrote in the paper.
“Breastfeeding may promote self-regulation of an infant’s energy intake, and the mother may learn to recognize her infant’s hunger and satiety cues,” they explained.
Mothers who gave birth between 1999 and 2002 were used in the study. Six months after birth, they were sent a questionnaire asking what foods their infants were already eating and at what age they began eating those foods. The children were then followed up at age 3 to see what their body mass index was.
The breastfed infants were almost half as likely to have a BMI at or above 95 percent by the time they were 3. For the formula fed infants, eating solid foods too soon seemed to have a significant impact on whether ot not they would be obese. Of those who were given food before 4 months,m 25 percent were obese by 3 years of age. Those who were not given food until after 4 months only had a 5 percent obesity rate.
The findings of this study are significant for parents who are wondering when they should begin solid foods with their baby. There is clearly some association between early food introduction and later obesity during the toddler years. – Summer, staff writer
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