Early Introduction of Solid Food Tied to Obesity

Formula-fed babies started on solids before 4 months are more likely to be obese toddlers

MONDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Introducing solid food to formula-fed infants who are under 4 months, or to infants weaned before the age of 4 months, is associated with an increased likelihood of obesity at the age of 3 years, according to a study published online Feb. 7 in Pediatrics.

Susanna Y. Huh, M.D., M.P.H., of the Children's Hospital Boston, and colleagues investigated the link between the timing of solid food introduction during infancy and obesity in 3-year-old children. In this prospective study, the introduction of solids in 847 children was categorized as before 4 months, 4 to 5 months, and 6 months and older, with obesity at 3 years old as the primary outcome. Infants who were breast-fed for at least four months ("breast-fed") and infants who were never breast-fed or were weaned before the age of 4 months ("formula-fed") were evaluated separately, with adjustments for child and maternal characteristics.

The researchers found a six-fold increase in the odds of obesity at age 3 among formula-fed infants who were introduced to solids before 4 months. This increase was not explained by rapid early growth. Among breast-fed infants, there was no link between the timing of solid food introduction and obesity.

"Our results support recommendations to introduce solids after 4 months of age, at least among infants who are formula-fed or breast-fed for less than four months," the authors write.

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