Join us at Workfest for expert advice on kickstarting your career x

Exclusive BF for 6 months may be harmful

(714 Posts)

Oh bloody hell hmm

The problem is it's only one study but will be seized on even if later it's put into context.

The other problem is the way it implies that breastfeeding is in some way a problem.

The third problem is the possibility they might turn out to be right, because I loved BLW and want to do it again...

I can hear certain members of my wider family from here...

belgo Fri 14-Jan-11 07:04:21

Clare Byam-Cook has already seized upon it and suggest weaning from three months or 12 lbs in weight hmm

belgo Fri 14-Jan-11 07:05:57

As usual I agree with Justine's common sense comment at the end:

'Justine Roberts of Mumsnet said women needed clarity after at least three changes of policy in her own child-rearing years. "A lot of mums work quite hard, and it is quite hard work trying to exclusively breasfeed for six months without introducing solids. If that turns out not to be correct advice, we'd like to know as soon as possible."'

They'd better bloody well be right, causing all this upset. I had to stand my ground quite hard with my in-laws. I'm dreading speaking to them tbh.

12lb? For my cousin's fourth, that would be practically from birth then shock

Chil1234 Fri 14-Jan-11 07:21:41

Those of us who had children about 10 years ago and who were advised at the time to wean from 16 weeks onwards have had to spend the intervening years hearing (sometimes very nastily) that we put our children at risk. Mothers of much older children were advised to wean even earlier, of course. This study, I think, reassures mothers past and present that there is a 'weaning window' rather than a rigid cut-off date. It doesn't underplay bf in the slightest

Well, if the study doesn't the resultant coverage certainly is - someone just said on the telly "it was thought you should breastfeed for 6 months, but now people are saying that could be harmful"

MrsDrOwenHunt Fri 14-Jan-11 07:32:52

i did what i wanted to do with my ds, didnt do what others imagine i should do as i am not a sheep, ds started solids at 4 mths and still bf until he was nearly 3!!

Oh FFS. Mary Fewtrell, from the childhood nutrition research centre at the University College London Institute of Child Health, said probably no babies had been harmed, as few mothers in the UK manage to stick to six months of nothing but breastmilk with a baby who by then is taking an interest in the contents of people's plates. Really? Off the top of my head I can name nine mothers who did just that, including me. None of the babies are anaemic or show any signs of allergies or coeliac disease. This is a small sample of course and by no means scientific. grin

Before I start advising new mothers to start weaning at 4 months I'd want to see a large-scale study, preferably done by people who aren't employed by formula/baby food manufacturers.

Chil1234 a weaning 'window' does sound the best approach but mothers need to be aware of the real signs that a baby is ready for weaning, not the usual claptrap like waking more at night (when actually it's the 4 month sleep regression and not hunger at all. Usually).

Blatherskite Fri 14-Jan-11 07:39:30

I think what Justone was trying to say (very much more elegantly than I could have managed) was that they need to make thier bloody minds up! I know things change and new evidence come to light but seriously, the advice changed dramatically in the 2.9 years between my two children!! Going to have to make sure I pay as little attention as possible now as I'm sure something else I was advised to do will be outed as harmful very soon sad So far we have avoiding peanuts - and now gluten too), breastfeeding, how to make up bottles - just off the top of my head!

Blatherskite Fri 14-Jan-11 07:40:21

not enough sleep last night - Just*i*ne obviously.

Chil1234 Fri 14-Jan-11 07:42:56

"Before I start advising new mothers to start weaning at 4 months....."

That's the point. The advice shouldn't be 4 months, 6 months or some other distinct date. "From 4 months onwards".. perhaps and crediting mums with some commonsense? What many people did (and probably still do) was offer tastes of food on spoons and, if the baby wasn't interested, left it a few weeks before trying again.

Abr1de Fri 14-Jan-11 07:46:04

Hear, hear Chil1234.

misdee Fri 14-Jan-11 07:46:36

Do you know. I am happy to read in that article that the advice changed in 2001 as spent years defending weaning dd1 at 16weeks. Some people tried telling me that weanings has always been from 6months.

purcellfan Fri 14-Jan-11 07:48:18

Heard the today prog report also. How does this effect blw then? We did that with ds and he eats mostly well, no allergies and still bf at 18 mths. Isn't there something in the Rapley blw book that suggests babies will naturally avoid foods they're allergic to until they're bodies can cope better? (may have misremembered that). What a minefield!

Who did fund this study?

Oh and Chil I do quite agree - some posters do definitely owe people who weaned earlier than 6 months an apology... some posts on the subject were, as you say, downright nasty

kittywise Fri 14-Jan-11 07:49:26

The thing is these things ALWAYS change. I knew this 6 months thing would be discredited at some point. Then a new idea will come along and that will be discredited and so on and so forth.
It always happens. I have always though that 6 months is a bit extreme tbh. Never waited that long myself. My babies have wanted 'solids' alot earlier than that. They have done BLW at around 4 months when they could reach over and grab the toast out of my hand etc etc.

Hang on - where does the virgin gut theory fit in to this?

purcellfan Fri 14-Jan-11 07:49:51

Or I suppose if they are ready blw would work but wouldn't if they aren't!

Ooh hang on - coming on the Today prog now...

GooseFatRoasties Fri 14-Jan-11 07:56:56

It makes sense as there is such a wide variation in the growth and development of babies with eveything else. I hope people don't misinterpret the headlines as meaning breatfeeding is harmful.

GiddyPickle Fri 14-Jan-11 07:59:16

Hopefully any fallout of backlash over this will lead to a much more sensible "official position". 10 years ago the advice was 4 months - we had it drummed into us at antenatal and post natal classes every bit as much as 6 months breastfeeding became the mantra 3 or 4 years later.

It is worrying for parents to be given absolutely rigid time frames only to have them thrown into doubt (and worse told they might be harmful) 5 years later.

I weaned my DS at 4 months (he was well over 12lb by then, hungry and showing all the other signs of readiness we were told to watch for) in absolute accordance with the medical advice at the time only to be told later it was potentially harmful. Obviously this is upsetting and I am sure people who succeeded in exclusively breast feeding for 6 months will be worried / upset if the medical community revise the guidelines again.

Maybe the best approach is for there to be a set of indicators to look for rather than a given time - as Chil1234 says a "weaning window" rather than an absolute date.

On Justin Webb's point to the midwife that maybe this is why there are so many childhood allergies... This can't be the case because it's a very small percentage of children who are actually excl-BF for 6 months. If all children were, it might be more of a point.

GiddyPickle Fri 14-Jan-11 08:04:17

Longtail - the point about allergies in the studies is that the UK delays introducing things like nuts whereas countries like Israel use peanuts as a weaning food and have very low nut allergy rates. It was delaying the introduction of certain foods not breastfeeding that is linked to increased allergies.

I know it made that point about peanuts being a weaning food. but it made other points as well, didn't it? About gluten as well, for a start.

What we need 'official' confirmation of is what many parents have been doing for years - that the best way to wean your baby is a at a slow and steady pace after 17 weeks watching them carefully and acting on their cues not your wishes. Then perhaps everybody could do their own thing without being nasty. I have seen so many posts lambasting people for wanting to wean before 6 months.

LTJ - you can still do BLW, nobody is going to be able to design a study that says the best way to wean is using puree - it's just not going to work because exposure to finger foods and self feeding is plainly a Good Thing. What we need to have is a less polarised debate so that nobody feels guilty!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now