A study conducted in America claims that babies raised on formula and who start eating solid foods before they are four months old may be more likely to become obese than those who are weaned later.
Previous research has resulted in conflicting results as to whether or not weaning is a factor in childhood obesity, but the current findings support U.S. guidelines that recommend babies are not introduced to solids before four months.
One of the study's lead authors, Dr. Susanna Huh, from Children's Hospital Boston said 'adhering to the guidelines could reduce the risk of obesity in childhood'.
Huh and her colleagues monitored around 850 babies and their mothers over 3 years for the study.
When babies were 6 months old, their mums were asked whether they had breastfed, and if so, for how long. They were also asked to reveal when they had introduced solid foods, such as cereal, fruit, and dairy products.
The children were then measured at three years old to determine whether any were obese. The results showed that for babies who were breastfed for at least four months, the age that they first received solid food (before four months, at four or five months, or six months or later) had no effect on whether they were obese at three years. Regardless of when they started eating solids, the breastfed children still had a one in 14 chance of being obese as preschoolers.
However, formula-fed babies, or those who stopped breastfeeding before they were four months old, had a one in four chance of being obese at age three if they started eating solid foods before they were four months old. If parents waited until between four and five months before weaning, the children's chances of being obese were one in 20.
Dr. David McCormick, a pediatrician at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, said parents adding cereal to formula without thinking about the extra calories they are feeding their baby was often to blame.
'I think that's what a lot of people are doing unknowingly, thinking that the baby will be healthier or grow faster,' he said.
What do you think?
Did you formula feed one baby, and breastfeed another?
Can you see vast weight differences in your children?
Or do you think babies should be weened when they start to show an interest in food, regardless of when guidelines suggest?
Heart problems for obese children