In 2006 the World Health Organization published growth charts based solely on breastfed babies who received solids at age 4 to 6 months. The Israeli health ministry has finally gotten around to providing them to Tipat Chalav, Israel’s well-baby clinics.
The babies measured for the new charts were healthy singletons, living in a safe and affluent environment where their growth wouldn’t be compromised.
Breastfed babies grow at slightly different rates than bottle-fed babies, and tend to be leaner. This is important for monitoring obesity, which begins early. Now parents of bottle-fed babies that are growing too quickly can take steps to watch their babies’ intake. Similarly, the moms of breastfed babies told in the past to supplement with formula, would find their babies following the curve and continue breastfeeding exclusively.
The new charts also include developmental milestones, an important indicator of proper nourishment along with weight gain. Previous charts measured a cross-section of American babies, with the proportion of breastfed babies similar to that in the general population.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association points out that formula companies will try to suggest that the new charts should not apply to bottle-fed babies, since those babies weren’t included. But breastfeeding is the norm, and thus the growth model for all babies.
According to Ynet, the solely breastfed babies are heavier at some points in the chart. Until about 2 months, all babies grow at a similar rate no matter how they are fed. But at 3 and 6 months, breastfed boys are heavier on average than a group of breastfed and bottle-fed babies. At 9 and 12 months, all breastfed babies are slimmer. Breastfed girls are slimmer than the combination group from 3 months and on.
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