Food firms' advice on diet 'puts babies at risk'

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The Independent Online
BABIES are being exposed to a greater risk of asthma, eczema and constipation because baby food manufacturers encourage weaning too early, according to a survey published today, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

Seventy per cent of mothers turn to manufacturers for advice on weaning, the study found; three-quarters make up to half of their infants' diet with convenience baby foods.

Rosemary Dodds, policy research officer for the National Childbirth Trust which, with the Health Visitors' Association and the Co-op, sponsored the survey of 1,000 mothers, health visitors and breast- feeding counsellors, said: 'Women's confidence has been undermined when it comes to preparing nutritious foods for their babies.'

The HVA says that introducing solid foods too soon may increase sensitivity of a baby's gut to allergic illnesses.

Sue Botes, HVA officer, criticised the implication that it was 'progress' to move on to solid foods. The Department of Health recommends weaning at four months, but many manufacturers recommend three to four months.

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