In 2001, the World Health Organization that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies until six months, but now some scientists are worried that this practice may be harmful. An article published in the British Medical Journal presented evidence that failing to introduce any solid food before six months may increase a baby’s rick for iron deficiency, anemia and celiac disease.
However, Mary Fewtrell of the University College London Institute of Child Health says few mothers are able to follow the WHO guidelines, which were also recommended by the UK’s government starting in 2003. Fewtrell said that most mothers find that their babies want more food than they can provide before six months, and that few mothers feed their children exclusively breast milk before the age of six months. “About 1% were doing it in 2005, although probably more now,” she said. “But only about 20% breastfeed at all at six months. It is not a common behavior.”
The paper was far from being anti-breastfeeding, and does not recommend introducing solid foods before four month. Many, however, are unconvinced, pointing out that exclusive breastfeeding protects against infections. Unicef pointed out that the paper did no contain any new experimental data. The UK’s Department of Health says it will review the research, and stands by its current recommendations. They added that “mothers who wish to introduce solids before six months should always talk to health professionals first.”
Via The Guardian.
January 14th, 2011