LOCAL breast feeding support groups have hit out at a new study which states that breast might not be best for a baby.
Scientists from University College London Institute of Child Health have said babies not introduced to solid food early enough could suffer from iron deficiency, or become prone to allergies.
Experts say breast feeding exclusively for six months may damage a baby’s health and reduce the window of introducing new tastes to the baby.
The study contradicts Department of Health advice issued in 2003 on the basis of a World Health Organisation report.
Breast feeding counsellor and branch leader of support group La Leche League (LLL) Katie Davies said: ‘Parents have a lot of decisions to make and it can often be bewildering.
‘LLL believes they should be given all the information and support necessary to make well informed decisions. Many parents find that their baby starts to feed themselves complementary foods when the babies themselves are ready, which is around six months for the healthy, full-term baby.
‘Babies will continue to need mums’ milk for many months after that, alongside solid food.’
The team from University College London found 33 studies suggested that solids could be safely introduced into a baby’s diet at four to six months.
Doing so before then could increase the danger of a baby developing anaemia and increase the incidence of early onset Coelaic Disease by limiting exposure to gluten, separate studies have found.
The study also suggested that bitter tastes, in particular, may be important in the later acceptance of green leafy vegtables. Rejection of vegetables could damage a child’s health when they are older.
Health Minister David Anderson MHK said:‘The Department of Health is committed to do all it can to try to increase the levels of breastfeeding in the Isle of Man, because breastfeeding has so many proven benefits to babies and mothers.’