Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be fed only formula or breast milk until they are 6 months old, but more than 90 percent of mothers are offering solid food to their babies earlier than that, with 40 percent offering solids before 4 months, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC survey, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, said the findings are “worrisome” in that babies may be at increased risk for developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema, and celiac disease. More from NBC News:
The mothers who volunteered for the CDC study filled out food diaries and questionnaires designed to ferret out their opinions on why and when solid foods should be offered.
Among the moms offering solid foods to infants younger than 4 months, the most commonly cited reasons for doing so included: “My baby was old enough;” “My baby seemed hungry;” “I wanted to feed my baby something in addition to breast milk or formula,” “My baby wanted the food I ate;” “A doctor or other health care professional said my baby should begin eating solid food;” and “It would help my baby sleep longer at night,” researchers reported.
What’s more, moms who fed their babies formula were far more likely to start solids too early versus those who exclusively breast-fed (53 percent versus 24 percent), the study showed.
One food expert unaffiliated with the CDC study suggested that some health-care providers may simply be unfamiliar with current baby-feeding recommendations.
“I think this is worrisome,” said Ann Condon-Meyers, a pediatric dietician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “I think it may show that word isn’t getting out that … it is 6 months before solid foods should be offered.”
Image: Baby being fed, via Shutterstock
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Friday, March 22nd, 2013
The foods that many American babies and toddlers are eating contains too much sodium, according to new information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and presented to a scientific meeting of the American Heart Association. Consuming too much sodium can lead to elevated risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, among other things. From a release announcing the findings:
In the first study to look at the sodium content in U.S. baby and toddler foods, researchers compared the sodium content per serving of 1,115 products for babies and toddlers using data on major and private label brands compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Baby food was categorized as intended for children less than one year old, and toddler food was categorized as intended for children between the ages of one and three.
A product was defined as high in sodium if it had more than 210 mg of sodium per serving. Toddler meals had significantly higher amounts of sodium than baby meals, and the amount of sodium in some of the toddler meals was as high as 630 mg per serving – about 40 percent of the 1,500 mg daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association. The foods with the most sodium were savory snacks and meals for toddlers.
“Our concern is the possible long-term health risks of introducing high levels of sodium in a child’s diet, because high blood pressure, as well as a preference for salty foods may develop early in life. The less sodium in an infant’s or toddler’s diet, the less he or she may want it when older,” said Joyce Maalouf, M.S., M.P.H., ORISE, lead author and Fellow at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium consumption to less than 1500 mg a day. Sodium is in regular table salt and many foods, including most prepared meals and snacks for toddlers.
The CDC listed the following 10 foods as the biggest sodium culprits affecting Americans from ages 2-19:
- Bread and rolls
- Cold cuts and processed meats
- Savory snacks
- Mixed pasta dishes
- Frankfurters and sausages
Image: Salt, via Shutterstock
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Monday, February 4th, 2013
The popular squeezable baby food snacks that allow babies and toddlers to suck pureed food directly form foil pouches may actually be harmful to growing teeth, according to a statement from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). The new statements about the pouches, which were launched in 2008 by Plum Organics and now are made by a number of baby food brands, makes similar recommendations to what the AAPD already says about babies who walk around with milk- or juice-filled sippy cups. More from NPR.org:
“The constant exposure of sugar on their teeth is detrimental,” says Paul Casamassimo, the oral health research and policy center director at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. “My concern would be if the child walks around with this little pouch, then they might be doing the same thing,” he says.
In fact, the academy recommends ditching the sippy cup and going straight from bottle to cup between 12 and 15 months because of the potential risk of tooth decay. Casamassimo calls them “baby bottle methadone.”
Carbohydrates in all foods are used by bacteria to produce acid, and the acid eats away at the enamel of the teeth, creating the potential for cavities — a growing problem among all children, he says.
And the pouch food, because of its consistency, may be particularly tough on teeth if it’s allowed to sit there for long periods. “We know that tends to stick on teeth and prolong the opportunity for the bacteria to build,” he says.
Brushing kids’ teeth twice a day and making them rinse with water after eating the pouch foods or drinking juice can help, Cassamassimo says.
Image: Smiling toddler, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
In a study that echoes other research that shows organic food to carry no more significant nutrition than conventionally-grown foods, a new report says that organic food is not conclusively more healthy for growing children than conventional foods. MSNBC.com reports:
The nation’s pediatricians have weighed in on the issue for the first time, and they say that when it comes to nutritional value, organics are virtually indistinguishable from conventionally produced foods.
“Pretty much every study shows no nutritional difference,” said Dr. Janet Silverstein, a professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Florida. She’s a co-author of the report published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Silverstein and her colleagues reviewed the available studies on organic and conventionally produced foods, including produce, dairy products and meat. They considered research about issues including nutrition, hormones, antibiotics and synthetic chemical exposure, plus factors such as environmental impact and price.
Overall, the docs came to a conclusion that may surprise some parents who believe organic is best for their kids
“In the long term, there is currently no direct evidence that consuming an organic diet leads to improved health or lower risk of disease,” AAP officials said in a statement.
Image: Baby food, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
Consumer Reports, the independent consumer watchdog group, has conducted analysis of a number of different rice products, finding that an array of them–including organic rice baby cereal, rice breakfast cereals, brown rice, and white rice–contain “worrisome” levels of the carcinogenic toxin arsenic. Arsenic is not regulated in food, though the government does have a standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for arsenic in drinking water. From Consumer Reports:
Arsenic not only is a potent human carcinogen but also can set up children for other health problems in later life.
Following our January investigation, “Arsenic in Your Juice,” which found arsenic in apple and grape juices, we recently tested more than 200 samples of a host of rice products. They included iconic labels and store brands, organic products and conventional ones; some were aimed at the booming gluten-free market.
The results of our tests were even more troubling in some ways than our findings for juice. In virtually every product tested, we found measurable amounts of total arsenic in its two forms. We found significant levels of inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, in almost every product category, along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern. Moreover, the foods we checked are popular staples, eaten by adults and children alike. See the chart summarizing results of our tests for arsenic in rice or rice products.
Though rice isn’t the only dietary source of arsenic—some vegetables, fruits, and even water can harbor it—the Environmental Protection Agency assumes there is actually no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic.
Click here for a brand-by-brand breakdown of the test results. And follow Consumer Reports’ recommendations for how to reduce your family’s exposure to arsenic found in rice:
Test your water. If your home is not on a public water system, have your water tested for arsenic and lead. To find a certified lab, contact your local health department or call the federal Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.
Change the way you cook rice. You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking, using a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice for cooking and draining the excess water afterward. That is a traditional method of cooking rice in Asia. The modern technique of cooking rice in water that is entirely absorbed by the grains has been promoted because it allows rice to retain more of its vitamins and other nutrients. But even though you may sacrifice some of rice’s nutritional value, research has shown that rinsing and using more water removes about 30 percent of the rice’s inorganic arsenic content.
Eat a varied diet. Some vegetables can accumulate arsenic when grown in contaminated soil. To help, clean vegetables thoroughly, especially potato skins. Some fruit juices such as apple and grape juice are high in arsenic, as our previous tests showed. To prevent obesity and tooth decay, pediatricians advise that infants younger than 6 months shouldn’t drink juice; children up to age 6 should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces a day and older children no more than 8 to 12 ounces. Like grape juice, wine also can be a source of exposure, according to data collected in the FDA’s Total Diet Study, which provides more complete information about arsenic content in a variety of foods. Go to fda.gov and search for “total diet study analytical results.”
Experiment with other grains. Vary your grains, especially if you eat more than two or three servings of rice per week. Though not arsenic-free, wheat and oats tend to have lower levels than rice. And quinoa, millet, and amaranth are among other options for those on a gluten-free diet, though they have not been studied as much.
Image: Rice, via Shutterstock
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