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Why are babies weaned early? Data from a prospective population based cohort study

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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wright CM, Parkinson KN, Drewett RF

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Archives of Disease in Childhood

Year: 2004

Volume: 89

Issue: 9

Pages: 813-816

Print publication date: 01/09/2004

ISSN (print): 0003-9888

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2044

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/adc.2003.038448

PubMed id: 15321854


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