Is breast best? Is early solid feeding harmful?

Anita MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


The health benefits of breastfeeding for babies and mothers have long been recognised and it is now globally recommended that it be continued exclusively for six months. Although there are few controlled trials to support this recommendation, the most important advantage is less morbidity from gastrointestinal infection in developing countries. There is also evidence that respiratory tract infections and atopic dermatitis is reduced, and the maternal risk of breast cancer decreases, particularly with a longer duration of breastfeeding and a high parity. There is little to suggest that exclusive breastfeeding for six months adversely affects infant growth, nutritional status or infant feeding skills, but more studies are needed. Equally, there is no evidence that introduction of solids from 17 weeks is harmful in developed countries. However, in the UK breastfeeding prevalence is low and solids are introduced early for the majority of infants and much can be done to positively encourage and support all mothers to continue breastfeeding for a longer period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Royal Society for Promotion of Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2003


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