March 1, 2006 -- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a report with new recommendations for building strong bones in children, including three servings a day of dairy products, adequate Vitamin D intake, and even weight training for teenagers. The report stresses a new reason to ensure your child's bone strength: it can reduce the risks of bone fractures, breaks, and osteoporosis in adulthood.
Bone mass is critical for children ages 8 and up, and of special importance during adolescence. To reach optimal bone mass, the AAP recommends that children:
The AAP warns that it's important for parents to be aware that calcium intake listings on food labels are based on adult requirements -- not children's. As a result, parents are encouraged to speak to their child's pediatrician during well-baby visits to ensure that their child is getting the proper amount of calcium in his diet.
The report also recommends that pediatricians periodically assess their patients' calcium intake with a simple questionnaire beginning at 2 to 3 years of age.
Despite the calcium recommendations, it's important to remember that milk should not be given to babies under 12 months of age, and yogurt and cheese should not be introduced until around 6 months of age. Infants in this age group will be getting adequate amounts of calcium from breast milk or formula.
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