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Science base of complementary feeding practice in infancy

Michaelsen, Kim F; Larnkjær, Anni; Lauritzen, Lotte; Mølgaard, Christian

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: May 2010 - Volume 13 - Issue 3 - p 277–283
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328338653f
Paediatrics: Edited by Berthold V. Koletzko and Raanan Shamir

Purpose of review The review presents a selection of publications on complementary feeding in industrialized countries during 2008–2009, after the publication of the ESPGHAN position paper in early 2008.

Recent findings The WHO recommendation for introduction of complementary feeding at 6 months is adapted in many countries, but the issue is still discussed and many mothers introduce complementary feeding as early as before 4 months. The European Food Safety Authority recently published a comprehensive review on the appropriate age for the introduction of complementary feeding and concluded that introduction between 4 and 6 months is safe. One study showed that delaying introduction of complementary feeding up to 6 months resulted in lower risk of overweight as adult. Milk protein is stimulating insulin-like growth factor-1 and growth and a recent study supports a long-term programming of the insulin-like growth factor-1 axis. There is now a broad consensus that there is no need to delay the introduction of hyperallergenic foods, which might even increase the risk of allergic disease. Randomized studies show that docosahexaenoic acid may affect heart rate and thereby cardiovascular regulation.

Summary Despite some recent interesting publications, there is still a need for more large randomized studies to further explore to what degree the time of introduction and composition of complementary foods have effects on growth, development and especially the long-term risk of diseases.

Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Correspondence to Professor Kim Fleischer Michaelsen, Department of Human Nutrition, Faculty of Life Science, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 30, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark Tel: +45 3528 2495 or 2493; fax: +45 3528 2483; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.