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Several studies have shown that formula-fed infants on average are heavier than breastfed infants by the end of the first year of life.
The same is found by a study by Professor Berthold V. Koletzko (photo) and his team in 2009 involving 1,128 infants in Europe.
While some parents may be pleased with enhanced early growth, it does not bode well for the long-term well-being of the child.
“Greater weight gain in infancy is linked to an increased risk for obesity as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer in adulthood,” he says.
Current recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) and the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) offer a “new paradigm in early feeding”.
This new paradigm seeks to address early overfeeding as an important step towards promoting healthier future generations.
The model for a normal growth is the growth of healthy breastfed populations which can be reached by modern infant formula that do not provide too high amounts of energy and protein.
“The ideal is not to have chubby babies, but healthy babies who grow at the same rate as breastfed infants,” he says.
To achieve this, parents need to do their research and find the right quantity of the right nutrients to support optimal health, growth and development at each stage of an infant’s development.