THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Babies who are still
drinking from a bottle at 2 years of age may be prone to obesity by
the time they turn 5, a new study suggests.
For the study, researchers analyzed data on 6,750 children who
participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth
Cohort, which included kids from around the United States born in
About 22 percent of the children continued to use bottles
regularly at 24 months of age, meaning they mainly drank from a
bottle or were put to bed with one.
At age 5 1/2, about 23 percent of the children who drank from a
bottle at age 2 were obese, compared to about 16 percent of kids
who'd stopped using a bottle by age 2, according to the study.
That makes children still using a bottle at age 2 about 33
percent more likely to be obese than children who were weaned
sooner, the researchers said.
One likely explanation for the finding: kids who are still
drinking from a bottle at age 2 are probably consuming more
calories than they need, the study authors said.
"At older ages, the bottle is probably used for comfort and convenience rather than nourishment," said study lead author Rachel Gooze, a doctoral candidate in public health at Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia.
The study will be published in an upcoming issue of
The Journal of Pediatrics.
Children were considered obese if their body mass index [BMI, a
ratio of weight to height] was at or above the 95th percentile for
their age. The proportion of 5-year-olds in the study who were
obese roughly tracked other national statistics that place obesity
rates among pre-schoolers at about one in five, Gooze said.
Experts have long encouraged parents to wean children from the
bottle around age one.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises parents to
wean children from a bottle at about ages 12 to 14 months, and to
avoid putting a baby to bed with a bottle to avoid tooth decay.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a similar recommendation,
cautioning that "the bottle [should] be given up entirely at around
age one and almost certainly by eighteen months."
Other research has suggested that prolonged bottle use may
contribute to iron deficiency, according to background information
with the study.
For the study, the researchers accounted for other factors that
could influence obesity in 5-year-olds, including having an obese
mother, socioeconomic status, whether kids were breast-fed as
infants, and the timing of the introduction of solid foods. (They
did not have information on the children's physical activity.)
Even when controlling for those factors, children who drank from
a bottle at age 2 were more likely to be obese than kids who'd
graduated to a cup, the researchers said.
Bottle-feeding or breast-feeding infants is necessary during the
first year of life to provide adequate nutrition during a time of
rapid growth, said Dr. Roya Samuels, a pediatrician at the Steven
and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.
Between 4 and 6 months of age, babies should begin eating solid
foods, which will gradually become the child's main source of
nourishment, Samuels said. A typical 1-year-old needs only about 10
to 16 ounces of whole milk per day, in addition to a "healthy
assortment of table foods," she said. Parents should limit fruit
and vegetable juices to no more than 4 ounces a day and the
remainder of liquids consumed should be water, she added.
"If parents continue bottle-feeding into the toddler period, it is likely children will be consuming too many calories during the course of the day, leading to excessive weight gain into childhood," Samuels said, noting that this new study is among the first to track children over time to determine how prolonged bottle use may affect their weight.
Wresting a bottle away from an opinionated and stubborn toddler
isn't easy, especially if there is a younger sibling in the house
who is getting a bottle.
Gooze recommends that parents discuss weaning strategies with
their pediatrician, and also change their own mindset about the
transition. Rather than think of weaning as taking something away
from the child, look at it as a sign your baby is reaching another
milestone, she said.
"We definitely recognize stopping the bottle at a year of age is not easy, and stopping it at 2 years of age may be even harder," she said. "It might be helpful to think of moving from a bottle to a cup as a developmental milestone, like moving from crawling to walking, which is something to celebrate, even if it has challenges."
Nemours Foundation has tips for making the
transition from bottle to cup.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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