HealthDay News — Many U.S. infants are introduced to complementary foods before 4 months of age, according to a study published online January 4 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Chloe M. Barrera, MPH, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2009 to 2014) to estimate the timing of introduction of complementary foods (anything other than breast milk or formula) among a nationally representative sample of 1,482 children. 

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The researchers found that 16.3% of U.S. infants were introduced to complementary foods at <4 months, 38.3% between 4 and <6 months, 32.5% between 6 and <7%, and 12.9% at ≥7 months of age. Early introduction varied by breastfeeding status; race/Hispanic origin; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children participation; and maternal age. However, in adjusted analyses, only breastfeeding status remained significant, with infants who never breastfed or stopped at <4 months more likely to be introduced to complementary foods early (odds ratio, 2.27) compared to infants who breastfed for ≥4 months.

“Strategies to support caregivers to adhere to infant feeding guidelines may be needed,” the authors write.

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