Duration of exclusive breast-feeding: introduction of complementary feeding may be necessary before 6 months of age

John J Reilly, JCK Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The WHO recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first 6 months of life. At present, <2 % of mothers who breast-feed in the UK do so exclusively for 6 months. We propose the testable hypothesis that this is because many mothers do not provide sufficient breast milk to feed a 6-month-old baby adequately. We review recent evidence on energy requirements during infancy, and energy transfer from mother to baby, and consider the adequacy of exclusive breast-feeding to age 6 months for mothers and babies in the developed world. Evidence from our recent systematic review suggests that mean metabolisable energy intake in exclusively breast-fed infants at 6 months is 2·2–2·4 MJ/d (525–574 kcal/d), and mean energy requirement approximately 2·6–2·7 MJ/d (632–649 kcal/d), leading to a gap between the energy provided by milk and energy needs by 6 months for many babies. Our hypothesis is consistent with other evidence, and with evolutionary considerations, and we briefly review this other evidence. The hypothesis would be testable in a longitudinal study of infant energy balance using stable-isotope techniques, which are both practical and valid.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-872
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Volume94
Issue number06
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
Breast Feeding
Mothers
Breast
Energy Transfer
Human Milk
Energy Intake
Isotopes
Longitudinal Studies
Milk

Keywords

  • infant nutrition
  • lactation
  • energy metabolism
  • childhood obesity
  • breast feeding

Cite this

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abstract = "The WHO recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first 6 months of life. At present, <2 {\%} of mothers who breast-feed in the UK do so exclusively for 6 months. We propose the testable hypothesis that this is because many mothers do not provide sufficient breast milk to feed a 6-month-old baby adequately. We review recent evidence on energy requirements during infancy, and energy transfer from mother to baby, and consider the adequacy of exclusive breast-feeding to age 6 months for mothers and babies in the developed world. Evidence from our recent systematic review suggests that mean metabolisable energy intake in exclusively breast-fed infants at 6 months is 2·2–2·4 MJ/d (525–574 kcal/d), and mean energy requirement approximately 2·6–2·7 MJ/d (632–649 kcal/d), leading to a gap between the energy provided by milk and energy needs by 6 months for many babies. Our hypothesis is consistent with other evidence, and with evolutionary considerations, and we briefly review this other evidence. The hypothesis would be testable in a longitudinal study of infant energy balance using stable-isotope techniques, which are both practical and valid.",
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Duration of exclusive breast-feeding: introduction of complementary feeding may be necessary before 6 months of age. / Reilly, John J; Wells, JCK.

In: British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 94, No. 06, 2005, p. 869-872.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Duration of exclusive breast-feeding: introduction of complementary feeding may be necessary before 6 months of age

AU - Reilly, John J

AU - Wells, JCK

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AB - The WHO recommends exclusive breast-feeding for the first 6 months of life. At present, <2 % of mothers who breast-feed in the UK do so exclusively for 6 months. We propose the testable hypothesis that this is because many mothers do not provide sufficient breast milk to feed a 6-month-old baby adequately. We review recent evidence on energy requirements during infancy, and energy transfer from mother to baby, and consider the adequacy of exclusive breast-feeding to age 6 months for mothers and babies in the developed world. Evidence from our recent systematic review suggests that mean metabolisable energy intake in exclusively breast-fed infants at 6 months is 2·2–2·4 MJ/d (525–574 kcal/d), and mean energy requirement approximately 2·6–2·7 MJ/d (632–649 kcal/d), leading to a gap between the energy provided by milk and energy needs by 6 months for many babies. Our hypothesis is consistent with other evidence, and with evolutionary considerations, and we briefly review this other evidence. The hypothesis would be testable in a longitudinal study of infant energy balance using stable-isotope techniques, which are both practical and valid.

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