Early complementary feeding is associated with low nutritional status of young infants recovering from diarrhoea
Young infants admitted to hospital for diarrhoea were studied to identify and understand the reasons for early complementary feeding and to examine its effect on nutritional status. Of 132 infants, 71 percent were being breastfed, 24 percent had already stopped, and 5 percent had never been breastfed. Complementary feeds were started by the mothers when infants' median age (range) was 27 (1-180) days. Mothers' perceptions regarding breastmilk being insufficient (53 per cent) or causing diarrhoea (19 percent), were the major reasons for complementary feeding. The mean weight-for-age of the infants given complementary feeds before the age of 2 months was 72 percent of the National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS) standards, compared to 82 percent in those starting after 2 months of age (P = 0.01). Similarly, the mean weight-for-length in these two groups were 86 and 91 percent, respectively (P = 0.04). Initiation of early complementary feeding is associated with infant malnutrition and this alarming trend should be strongly discouraged.
J Trop Pediatr 1996 Jun;42(3):170-2