Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
The age at which a baby is offered her first solid food may affect the likelihood that she develops food allergies later in childhood, according to new research by British scientists. Breastfeeding exclusively for 4-6 months, then introducing solid foods while still breastfeeding, the researchers found, is the best way to prevent food allergies from developing. More from The New York Times:
British researchers followed a group of 1,140 infants from birth to 2 years, while their mothers completed diaries detailing the babies’ diets and noting suspected allergic reactions to food, which researchers later confirmed by testing. They found 41 babies with confirmed food allergies, and compared them with 82 age-matched healthy controls. All were born between January 2006 and October 2007.
After controlling for birth weight, the duration of pregnancy, maternal allergies and many other factors, they found that 17 weeks was the crucial age: babies who were introduced to solids before this age were significantly more likely to develop food allergies.
The study, published online in Pediatrics, found that continuing to breast-feed while introducing cow’s milk also had a protective effect against allergies. The authors suggest that the immunologic factors in breast milk are what provide the advantage.
The researchers advised that mothers who are not breastfeeding also wait until after 17 weeks to introduce solids.
Learn how to make fresh baby food at home with our helpful guide. Then, download our charts and checklists to keep track of Baby’s important info.
Image: Baby food, via Shutterstock
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Monday, April 2nd, 2012
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Friday that it will not ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from food packaging–including infant formula packages–even though the agency agrees the substance needs to be studied more carefully for potential health risks.
The FDA’s BPA policy statement was updated to say that in response to a 2008 petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the agency is taking “reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply,” but that it will stop short of banning its use altogether. “FDA is not recommending that families change the use of infant formula or foods, as the benefit of a stable source of good nutrition outweighs the potential risk from BPA exposure,” the policy states.
Health risks associated with BPA include negative effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.
Health policy experts are disappointed, if not dismayed, at the decision. Jeanne Rizzo, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, responded in a strongly-worded statement, “Scientists, consumers, retailers, manufacturers and the states are sending clear signals that BPA doesn’t belong in our food packaging and that investment in safe alternatives is an investment in the health of the American public. Now the FDA needs to catch up. Inaction is not acceptable.”
Two weeks ago, Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey submitted his own petition for a BPA ban, arguing that it is a obsolete material that is not necessary, especially given the health risks.
Image: Canned foods, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
Overexposure to salty foods during infancy is a major factor in Americans’ unhealthy relationship with sodium, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found. Parents who fed their babies starchy table foods including breakfast cereals and crackers that contain added salt are more likely to have preschoolers who gravitate toward salty foods. The New York Times reports:
“Our data would suggest that if one wants to reduce salt in the population as a whole, then it’s important to start early because infants and children are very vulnerable,” said Dr. Gary Beauchamp, an author of the paper and behavioral biologist at the Monell Center in Philadelphia, a nonprofit institute that carries out research on taste and smell. “Exactly what constitutes too much salt is somewhat of a matter of controversy. But for kids over the age of 1 and 2, what they’re consuming now is well beyond what is recommended by every major health organization in the world.”
Reducing the amount of salt Americans consume has been a focus of health authorities for some time. Some experts say that many adults eat twice as much salt as the recommended daily allowance calls for, and some studies have found that cutting back on salt intake could save more than 100,000 lives in the United States every year from illnesses like heart attack and stroke.
Researchers add that it’s never too late to adjust a person’s craving for salt. “When people are put on a lower sodium diet, they shift their preference downward and begin to like less salty things,” Dr. Beauchamp told The Times.
Image: Salt shaker, via Shutterstock
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