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Timing of Solids Introduction to Infants Has No Effect on Growth or Body Composition

Question

  • Does the age of introduction and type of solid foods introduced affect infant growth and body composition?

Clinical Bottom Lines

  1. The advice given to parents, in regards to the timing or type of solids given, should not change.
  2. However, one can present to families the concern that early introduction of foods may result in food allergy, but will not affect their growth or body composition.


Summary of Key Evidence

  1. Three-month old infants were placed randomly into four groups.  The four groups included the introduction of commercial solids at 3 or 6 months, and the introducttion of solids of the parents' choice at 3 or 6 months.1
  2. Infants could have been breast or formula-fed prior to the study, but they were formula-fed afterwards.  White, healthy infants were selected and other confounding environmental factors such as maternal education were examined and found to be no different.
  3. The infants were seen at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months of age, at which time weight, length, head circumference, body composition, and bone mineral content were measured.  Three-day diet histories were also obtained at each visit with the dietary intake of calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrates calculated.
  4. Differences were sporadically found in the dietary intake without trends established or significant change in measured outcomes.
  5. No difference in anthropometrics nor body composition was found at any age.

Additional Comments

  • The study was funded by Gerber and may lead one to take results with grain of salt (or baby food).
  • Concerns of food allergy, neurological development, morbidity, and micronutrient status still need to be addressed before current recommendations can be changed.
  • Diet histories are notorious for inaccuracy.
  • Study included only white, healthy infants.

Citation

  1. Mehta KC. Specker BL. Bartholmey S. Giddens J. Ho ML. Trial on timing of introduction to solids and food type on infant growth. Pediatrics. 102(3 Pt 1):569-73, 1998.

CAT Author: Karl F. Nicles, MD

CAT Appraisers: John Frohna, MD and Ken Pituch, MD

Date appraised: May 17, 1999

Last updated June 15, 2003
Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases
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