Mums misled to overfeed babies
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Mums misled to overfeed babies

Large number of babies might be at a risk of turning obese because their mums have been told to fatten them up the wrong way, say experts.

india Updated: May 05, 2009 16:04 IST

Large number of Brit babies might be at a risk of turning obese because their mums have been told to fatten them up the wrong way, say experts.

According to experts, National Health Service (NHS) growth charts gave misleading information about how much milk a breastfeeding mother should give a child.

The guidelines urged women to fatten up babies if they appear underweight, which means that some babies are now twice the average weight by their first birthday.

The tables were based on the rate of growth of mainly formula-fed tots, who tend to put on the pounds faster than breastfed infants and also have a higher risk of developing obesity.

However, now the charts have been scrapped and replaced.

And the new charts, which are out this month, draw guidelines based instead on the rate of growth of breastfed babies.

“With the previous charts a breastfed baby could be growing perfectly normally but would appear to the health visitor not to be growing as fast as the charts recommended, so there might have been pressure to wean early,” The Mirror quoted The Institute of Child Health’s Professor Tim Cole, who helped adapt the tables, as saying.

He added: “We have this severe cultural problem, which is that babies are expected to grow fast. The way breastfed babies grow will now become the norm.

“Thin babies will not appear to be so thin and fat babies will appear to be more fat.”

Research by Bristol and Cambridge universities revealed that rapid weight gain in the first nine months of a baby girl’s life increases her chances of being overweight in later childhood.

And the Child Growth Foundation, which campaigned for the new charts, said breastfed babies are 1lb lighter on average than infants only fed on formula milk.

“When babies are being overfed, this will become more noticeable,” said chair Tam Fry.

Figures revealed that only 25 per cent of mums continue to breastfeed at six weeks, which dropped to only five per cent at six months.

Less than one per cent women follow official advice to breastfeed and avoid formula milk for the first six months of a baby’s life.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The new charts will not only provide more accurate data, but will also help professionals and parents to identify early signs of overweight or obesity and provide support.”

First Published: May 04, 2009 21:02 IST