Infants: Tests show breast milk is best

Babies who are breast fed and not given solid food too early turn out leaner, less prone to lung problems and with lower blood pressure, says research published yesterday in the British Medical Journal. The study of 545 children aged six to 10 in Dundee strongly confirmed the health benefits of mother's milk and infant feeding guidelines.

The research team, led by Dr Stewart Forsyth at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, found the probability of having respiratory illness was 17 per cent for children who were exclusively breast fed for at least 15 weeks. The risk rose to 32.2 per cent for wholly bottle fed babies. Solid feeding before 15 weeks was associated with an increased likelihood of wheeze in childhood and greater body fat and weight.

Current guidelines recommend that babies are exclusively breast fed for the first four months of life.