RCPCH responds to SACN 'Feeding in the first year of life' report

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has published its report today, providing recommendations on infant feeding from birth up to 12 months of age. The last review of infant feeding was undertaken by SACN's predecessor, Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) in 1994 and formed the basis for government recommendations in the UK.

SACN recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed until six months of age, and continue to be breastfed for at least the first year of life. They advise that solid foods should not be introduced until around six months, when a wide range of textures and flavours should be offered alongside breastfeeding. This represents no change to current Government recommendations.

In addition, SACN recommend that peanuts and hen's egg need not be differentiated from other solid foods when introduced from around the age of six months, stating that deliberately excluding these foods may increase the risk of allergy.

Responding to the new report ‘Feeding in the first year of life’ by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), Professor Mary Fewtrell, Nutrition Lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said:

“The guidance provided in this report on specific practical aspects of infant feeding is extremely helpful. For example, the importance of introducing a wide range of solid foods with different textures and flavours including sources of iron, avoiding cows' milk as the main drink, treating allergenic foods in the same way as other foods, and advice on vitamin D supplementation. This information will help parents navigate their way through the process of introducing solid foods much more confidently. 

"We strongly support breastfeeding, and recommend that mothers should be supported to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months, and to continue to breastfeed beyond six months, alongside giving solid food. However, some women cannot or choose not to breastfeed and this should be respected and appropriate support and education on infant feeding provided. All infants require solid foods from six months for adequate nutrition, but solids should never be introduced before four months (17 weeks) as this is associated with increased short-term risk of infection and later risk of obesity, allergy, and coeliac disease. We note the concerns raised by SACN about the significant proportion of infants with energy intakes above requirements and the proportion exceeding growth standards for their weight, and support the need for monitoring the prevalence of overweight and overfeeding in infants, and addressing high energy intakes in this age group.”