Breastfeeding mums less likely to give baby sugary treats


By AGENCY

Research has shown that breastfeeding helps establish healthy dietary behaviours later in childhood. — dpa

Mothers who breastfeed their babies for more than six months are less likely to give them treats like chocolate, crisps and sugary drinks before they turn one, according to a study.

Fewer than half of all infants under half a year old are exclusively breastfed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and promoting breastfeeding where possible could help establish healthy eating from a young age, researchers suggested.

Academics from the University of Glasgow in Scotland analysed the answers of 2,730 mothers of babies aged eight to 12 months included in the Scottish maternal infant and nutrition survey.

Of the total, 20% exclusively fed formula, while 48% breastfed beyond six months after birth.

Those who gave their babies formula were more likely to give their infant treats (45%), compared to breastfeeding mothers (15%), the study found.

Lead author Dr Ada Garcia said her team “were able to observe that diet inequalities start as early as six to 12 months old”.

“This is worrying, because eating habits are developed and established early in life, and it can be harder to change them later on,” she added.

“Our research suggests that continuing to promote breastfeeding where possible, may help to protecting infants’ health, along with helping to establish healthy dietary behaviours from a young age.”

Researchers found that breastfeeding mothers were also less likely to introduce their baby to solid food after they had turned six months (66%), compared to mothers who formula fed (37%), and were also less likely to give their babies food from a jar.

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service recommends introducing solids – known as weaning – at about six months, with food given alongside breast milk or formula.

According to the UK Department of Health and Social Care, giving babies food earlier than six months can reduce the amount of milk they consume and is associated with higher risk of infectious illnesses.

The team said the findings, published in the journal Maternal and Child Nutrition, show mums who breastfed their baby beyond six months demonstrated “more healthful complementary feeding practices”, compared to those who used formula, “independent of socioeconomic status and maternal age”. – PA Media/dpa

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