The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a study that shows that the earlier solid food is introduced to babies who were formula fed or stopped breastfeeding at four months, the bigger the association with childhood obesity, especially for children who were fed with formula milk.
The researchers compared the rate of obesity among 847 3-year-old children. Among the participants, 67 percent were breastfed, and 32 percent were formula-fed. They found out that those who were formula-fed and ate solid food before four months old were six times more likely to develop childhood obesity than those who had solid food at the appropriate age.
No such association was made with those who were breastfed as babies.
Said study co-author Sheryl L. Rifas-Shiman, a research associate at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Institute in Boston, "Among breast-fed infants, the timing of the introduction of solids didn't seem to matter."
The study’s authors report, “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,”
“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 added.
Says Dr. Susanna Y. Huh, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children's Hospital Boston, "Our study results suggest that adhering to the current American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines of waiting till 4 months to introduce solids has the potential to reduce the risk of obesity later on."
According to pediatricians, solid food such as yogurt, porridge, etc. should be introduced only as early as the baby’s fourth to sixth month.
"Breast-feeding is best, and it's a useful way to make sure your child is healthy. In terms of solid food introduction, it's wise to delay it until 4 to 6 months," said Dr. Goutham Rao, director of the weight management and wellness center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
SOURCES: • February 7, 2011. “Baby Food | solid before 4 months can cause childhood obesity” En.Wikinoticia.com • Serena Gordon. February 7, 2011. “Giving Baby Solid Foods Too Early Linked to Obesity Later” MedicineNet.com • Summer. February 17, 2011. “Baby Food Too Soon Boosts Childhood Obesity Risk” GrowingYourBaby.com