In 2001, a WHO Expert Consultation concluded that waiting until 6 months to introduce complementary foods to breastfed infants confers several benefits for both infants and mothers. Nonetheless, there is still controversy about this issue. In developing countries, the reduced risk of infant gastrointestinal illness and increased duration of maternal lactational amenorrhea associated with exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months make the benefit-risk ratio of this recommendation highly favorable. In industrialized countries, the case is less clear-cut, but the benefit-risk ratio is also likely to be favorable with regard to infant infectious morbidity, motor development and maternal weight loss postpartum. For outcomes such as infant growth, food acceptance and iron or zinc status, the evidence for industrialized countries suggests no particular benefit but also very little risk of following this recommendation. Some exclusively breastfed infants may become iron- or zinc-deficient before 6 months, but this can be prevented more effectively by targeted iron and zinc supplementation to high-risk infants than by introducing complementary foods. On the whole, the evidence to date supports the WHO recommendation to introduce complementary foods at 6 months, but further research in industrialized countries would be useful.

Copyright © 2006 Nestec Ltd., Vevey/S. Karger AG, Basel

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

New Mothers Guide to Breast Feeding

For many years, scientists have been playing out the ingredients that make breast milk the perfect food for babies. They've discovered to day over 200 close compounds to fight infection, help the immune system mature, aid in digestion, and support brain growth - nature made properties that science simply cannot copy. The important long term benefits of breast feeding include reduced risk of asthma, allergies, obesity, and some forms of childhood cancer. The more that scientists continue to learn, the better breast milk looks.

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