Breastfeeding And Early Weaning ‘New Findings’

weaning a baby before 6 months is detrimental to it's virgin gut

This morning on Twitter I was asked what I thought of the new breastfeeding and early weaning ‘new findings’ research? I headed over to BBC News/Health to find the headline Weaning before six months ‘may help breastfed babies’ .
The British Medical Journal had published a ‘new’ report:

Six months of exclusive breast feeding: how good is the evidence?


I had a busy morning so I didn’t get back on Twitter properly until lunch time.Reading the tweets and links it became evident mum’s were confused, some standing by WHO and then there was the headlines from some newspaper like The Sun claiming breast is not best which I was gob smacked at because that’s not at all what the BMA was saying at all.In short they seem to think (no new evidence) that babies who were weaned onto solids at 6 months:

  • Higher risk of iron deficiency anaemia (identified in data from the developing and developed worlds) known to be linked to irreversible adverse mental, motor, and psychosocial outcomes. The lack of a screening programme in the United Kingdom to detect such adverse population effects is a further concern
  • Concerns over a higher incidence of food allergies
  • Higher risk of coeliac disease, with concomitant long term complications

I read the whole report 3 times and found that what this report was just an analysis (it says it at the top of the report) of the World Health Organisation and UNICEF  and UNICEF released a statement themselves which you can find here .

Speaking from experience I don’t think there ‘analysis’ is correct.Kipwas exclusively breastfed up to 17 weeks.The advice then (2002) was 4-6 months.I just followed a friend of mine who was formula feeding, her little girl slept through the night and I wanted Kipto do the same.I didn’t know any different.I didn’t know what I know now. I wasn’t aware until I was training as a breastfeeding peer supporter about the anatomy of a baby’s gut.I can’t find the hand out I was given by the La Leche League lactation consultant who trained me but I did find this which explains about ‘the virgin gut’ in babies.
Kipfrom 3 weeks old developed eczema (I was a long time sufferer as a child and I was formula fed) he is allergic to nuts,eggs,pollen,animal fur,haricot beans and plasters.He is also anaemic and looks under nourished despite his ravenous appetite.
Looking at the report it says, weaning onto solids is better at 4 months than introducing formula the reverse is advised by WHO and the BMA report claims the ‘analysis’ was not to be funded by baby food or formula manufacturers.If the Department of Health were to back track the baby industry would gain a huge amount of profit.Most mothers now are now geared towards baby led weaning and it goes along with WHO and UNICEF recommendation that babies should be weaned ‘around 6 months’ when the gut of a baby is closed and less susceptible to allergens.Baby led weaning endorses feeding your baby fresh food as opposed to processed packet or jar baby food.
My girls were both left to wean onto solids at 6 months (Cat wasn’t blw until 7 months when I did my breastfeeding peer support training and Mouse blw from the start).Both girls have far less eczema, no allergens, have a more healthy build and not anaemic.I know it’s not a fair comparison but looking at the BMA report and my kids it doesn’t ring true.But then like I say it’s only 3 children.
I know many parents wean before 6 months I have no issues with that.My point is that it’s important that parents have informed choice which means they have all the ‘facts’ before them before making a decision.
I end my post with this article from today’s Guardian about breastfeeding and early weaning ‘new findings’.

I hope it makes clear what I was trying to get across at lunch time.

3 thoughts on “Breastfeeding And Early Weaning ‘New Findings’

  1. Pingback: Baby Led Weaning Carnival 1 – apples, sushi and a lot of mess | Circus Queen

  2. Pingback: when should extended breastfeeding end

  3. Pingback: breastfeeding and baby led weaning

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