By Nic Fleming, Medical Correspondent
Thousands of cases of obesity could have been caused by mothers being encouraged to overfeed their babies, scientists say.
Official charts used by doctors and health visitors to check infants are growing correctly date back to 1990, when around half of babies were breastfed and half given formula milk.
Today, three-quarters of babies are breastfed, and as those fed on formula gain weight at a quicker rate, mothers following the charts may have been overfeeding.
Studies suggest overfed babies are at greater risk of becoming obese later in life and suffering associated illnesses such as diabetes.
Prof Bert Koletzko, of the University of Munich, last week produced results from a study into the effects of infant nutrition in adult life.
He told New Scientist magazine that infant growth charts used in the United States “have been skewing infant nutrition towards overfeeding for decades”.
The weight charts given to British mothers since 1990 are based on studies carried out between 1978 and 1993.
Prof Tim Cole, of the University College London’s Institute for Child Health, said: “There is a general feeling that growing fast during infancy is not a good thing to do, partly because it encourages obesity.”
For those of you who are or know new moms, please make sure you pass along this information.