Doctors can help parents wean babies from bottle

Family doctors and pediatricians can influence when parents wean their children from the bottle, thereby helping to reduce tooth decay, obesity, and iron deficiency, according to a new study (Pediatrics, July 12, 2010) by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children.

The goal of the study was to determine whether an office-based, educational intervention program for parents of 9-month-old children could reduce bottle use and iron depletion at 2 years of age.

Only five minutes of advice at the 9-month well-baby checkup about the dangers of prolonged bottle use resulted in a dramatic 60% drop in the number of babies still using the bottle at age 3, said Jonathon Maguire, M.D., a pediatrician at St. Michael's and lead author of the study.

Most of the babies whose parents received the advice stopped using the bottle by their first birthday, compared to 16 months for babies whose parents received no instruction, Dr. Maguire said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends complete bottle weaning for healthy children by 15 months, but many doctors and parents are unaware of this, Dr. Maguire said. Many parents continue bottle feeding well past that time, even until their children are 3 or 4 years old.

"If physicians counsel parents of young infants about the dangers of prolonged bottle use and when to stop using the bottle, the counseling actually works," Dr. Maguire said.

Copyright © 2010

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