Feeding habits of breastfed and non-breastfed children up to 1 year old

Graciete O. Vieira , Luciana R. Silva , Tatiana de O. Vieira , João Aprígio G. de Almeida , Vilma A. Cabral

J Pediatr (Rio J). 2004;80(5):411-16


Human milk offers the nutrients that a child needs to begin a healthy life and represents the essential food for infants until their sixth month of life, as an exclusive food, and from then onwards should be complemented with other sources of nutrition until at least 2 years of age (1,2).

Earlier World Health Organization (WHO) documents recommended exclusive breastfeeding for 4-6 months (3). Based on scientific evidence of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, many countries, including Brazil, officially adopted the recommendation of complementary foods at 6 months of age (4,5). Nowadays the WHO and domestic policy concur on the recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life (1,5).

In search of a consensus on the optimum duration of exclusive breastfeeding, the WHO performed a systematic review of published research and concluded that none of them demonstrated weight or height gain deficits for children exclusively fed breastmilk during the first six months of their lives (1). The principal justification against the introduction of complementary foodstuffs before the sixth month of life was the increased risk of episodes of gastrointestinal infections (1,4,6,7).

In addition to the increased infant morbidity and mortality, there are innumerable disadvantages to the precipitate introduction of complementary foods, of note among which are the interference in nutrient absorption, such as iron and zinc (4), the increased risk of food allergies (6) and the increased incidence of chronic-degenerative diseases during adult life (8).

Furthermore, with the introduction of complementary foods before 6 months of age, the child will receive less human milk, with a consequent reduction in milk production on the part of the nurturing mother (4), a reduced overall breastfeeding duration, a reduction in the efficacy of lactation as a contraceptive (1) and interference in the baby’s feeding habits (8). Even among non-breastfed children, the habitual recommendation for the introduction of solid foods is after 4 months of life (9).

A teljes cikk a Journal de Pediatria oldalán olvasható.