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Study: Starting solid foods earlier may have health benefits

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The guidelines have been the same for years: breast-feeding for the first six months of life is best. But a new study is questioning that wisdom.

The study, recently published in the British Medical Journal, suggests introducing solid foods earlier in a child's development may prevent anemia, certain food allergies and celiac disease.

Currently, the World Health Organization recommends six months of breast milk only; so does Salt Lake City pediatrician Dr. Ellie Brownstien, but she says every situation is different.

"At 4 months [old], we have some kids grabbing at food on the table, and families that are really anxious to feed," Brownstein said.

Past studies have found breast milk to have immunity-boosting benefits; but in this new study by University College of London, researchers cite several potential health risks as reasons parents should introduce solid foods earlier.

"The study has shown you might decrease food allergies and increase acceptance of especially bitter foods and vegetables, is what I think they're aiming at," Brownstein said.

Still, Brownstien is going to wait to see if future studies produce the same information before changing her recommendations for new parents.

"The evidence is coming out pretty fast and furious. So if you listened to every study, you'd probably go crazy," Brownstien said.

The study still recommends women in developing countries exclusively breast feed for the first six months. That's based on access to clean water.

CLICK HERE for more information on the study.


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Sarah Dallof


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