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Infant Weight Gain & Obesity

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

A new study out of Harvard that was just published in April’s journal Pediatrics, looks at infant weight gain and links to childhood obesity. This is an interesting study, as previous studies had typically looked at weight alone as a predicator for future problems with obesity. In this study the authors looked at both weight and length as a measure of fatness. They also looked at weight as a dynamic process, in other words, it was not how much you weighed, but how quickly you gained the weight in infancy.

The authors found that the correlation between rapid infant weight gain and later obesity was striking. Other studies have also looked at the relationship between infant and childhood weight but this study makes a compelling argument that early rapid weight gain, even in the first months of infancy, could have long term health consequences.

So, armed with this knowledge, what can a parent do? Follow the AAP guidelines to exclusively breast or formula feed your your-baby for the first six months of life. If a your-baby is formula fed, limit their daily intake to an appropriate amount for age. Many parents, for a multitude of reasons, decide to add cereal to their your-baby’s bottle in hopes that this will “make their infant sleep through the night”. To my knowledge there has never been any data to confirm this, (maybe the Mommy network) and additional calories in infancy may lead to long-term consequences.

Juices and early introduction of your-baby foods may also add unnecessary calories.

This study points out the need to modify weight gain in infancy in a manner that will balance the needs of an infant’s brain as well as their body, during this time of rapid development.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

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