Thursday, September 1, 2011

Weaning to solids? How long to exclusively breastfeed? New Evidence found!

As I was scouring the Internet looking for studies supporting exclusive breastfeeding till 6 months of age I came across an article posted in January of this year that goes against all my prior education. A medical University in the United Kingdom found that delaying solids till 6 months may be harmful to infants as the they may become anemic and at increased risk for allergies and celiac disease..
Breast milk has been previously found to provide all the essential nutrients until 6 months when the baby's iron stores begin to deplete, thus requiring the supplementation of iron rich foods. All of my education supports this data and after finding this article I, and many other mothers, are left confused. What is best? The World Health Organisation, UNICEF and American Academy of Pediatrics still stands by the age of 6 months being the ideal age to wean an infant to solids.
"The AAP recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months of life. This means your baby needs no additional foods (except Vitamin D) or fluids unless medically indicated. Babies should continue to breastfeed for a year and for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby. Breastfeeding should be supported by your physician for as long as it is the right choice for you and your baby."

The following is a link of 6 reasons to delay the introduction of solids. The most substantial one being the maturation of the infants intestine's and how allergens can be introduced into the bloodstream if the gut is still immature, ie. before 6-7 months of age.

In a world of increasing allergies, especially peanut, I'm left pondering the efficacy of this study. The pendulum has certainly began to swing from delaying the introduction of peanuts till 2 years of age to introducing it before the age of one as peanut allergies may be the outcome if delayed for too long. So, maybe the answer is weaning to solids at 4 months? I'm not entirely sold. Until more substantial bodies of evidence arise I will continue to promote exclusive breast feeding till 6 months as the benefits for infants and mothers still prevails.
Breast Feeding

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