Overweening on weaningBMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d334 (Published 19 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d334
All rapid responses
In 1994, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food recommended that
"the majority of infants should not be given solid foods before the age of
four months, and a mixed diet should be offered by the age of six
months"(1). So, Dr Spence's older children shouldn't have been given
foods other than breast milk or infant formula milk before 17 weeks of
age, to spare their immature gut and kidneys from assault.
Current policy does suggest that babies can be offered suitable parts
of healthy family meals so that commercial baby foods are unneeded.
However, gravy and other salty foods are the least suitable, having in the
past led to the death of at least one baby whose immature kidneys were
unable to cope (2).
That Dr Spence and his wife, like so many parents, disregarded
recommendations based on scientific evidence is perhaps unsurprising.
However, that his boasts to this effect are published in the British
Medical Journal is disturbing. Is it really editorial policy to suggest
that parents simply follow '?intuition' wherever that might lead and
disregard evidence-based recommendations? At a time when we see a general
increase in diet-related illness can we simply suggest that babies eat
what their parents do, even when this consists of take-aways and ready
meals? We owe it to babies to be clearer about which foods are suitable
and which aren't.
The Breastfeeding Network
1) Department of Health. Weaning and the Weaning Diet. Report of the
Working Group on the Weaning Diet of the Committee on Medical Aspects of
Food Policy. Report on Health and Social Subjects No 45. 1994 HMSO.
2) Dodd V; Salt poisoning kills baby fed adult food, The Guardian
27/07/1999, http:/www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1999/jul/27/vikramdodd1 accessed
Competing interests: No competing interests