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Lookup NU author(s): Dr Margaret Wright,
Dr Kathryn Parkinson
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Background: The recommended age of introduction of solids food to the diet of infants (weaning) has recently been increased in the UK to 6 months, but most babies are still weaned before the age of 4 months. Aims: To examine what predicts the age of weaning and how this relates to weight gain and morbidity using data from a population based cohort. Methods: Parents of 923 term infants born in a defined geographical area and recruited shortly after birth were studied prospectively using postal questionnaires, weaning diaries, and routinely collected weights, of whom 707 (77%) returned data on weaning. Results: The median age of first weaning solids was 3.5 months, with 21% commencing before 3 months and only 6% after 4 months of age. Infants progressed quickly to regular solids with few reported difficulties, even when weaned early. Most parents did not perceive professional advice or written materials to be a major influence. The strongest independent predictors of earlier age at weaning were rapid weight gain to age 6 weeks, lower socioeconomic status, the parents' perception that their baby was hungry, and feeding mode. Weight gain after 6 weeks was unrelated to age of weaning. Babies weaned before 3 months, compared to after 4 months, had an increased risk of diarrhoea. Conclusions: Social factors had some influence on when weaning solids were introduced, but the great majority of all infants were established on solids before the previously recommended age of 4 months, without difficulty. Earlier weaning was associated with an increased rate of minor morbidity.
Author(s): Wright CM, Parkinson KN, Drewett RF
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Archives of Disease in Childhood
Print publication date: 01/09/2004
ISSN (print): 0003-9888
ISSN (electronic): 1468-2044
Publisher: BMJ Group
PubMed id: 15321854
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