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Growth charts aim to boost breast-feeding

Thurs May 7th, 2009

New official growth charts for infants will seek to encourage breast-feeding, it was announced yesterday.

The charts, developed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, indicate the expected growth of a healthy, breast-fed baby.

British health officials said the charts would also help parents identify children who are in danger of becoming obese.

College president Professor Terence Stephenson said: "The new charts have given us the opportunity to give growth charts a complete facelift and for the first time, position breastfeeding as 'the norm'.

"We hope they will be the stimulus for healthcare professionals to explain to women best practice for healthy growth and in turn, encourage more women to breastfeed their child."

British guidelines say a baby should only be breast-fed for the first six months of life. But just 22 per cent of mothers achieve this.

And existing growth charts were based on the growth of babies fed formula milk.

The new charts were launched ahead of National Breastfeeding Awareness Week next week.

Dr Sheila Shribman, department of health children's clinical director, said: "Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for infants. It gives health benefits for both the baby and the mother - even after they are no longer breastfeeding.

"It protects against stomach bugs and chest infections, provides perfect nutrition for the first six months, and reduces the likelihood of becoming obese in later childhood.

"The new UK-WHO growth charts will not only provide more accurate measurements for infant growth of breastfed babies, but will also help healthcare professionals and parents to identify early signs of overweight or obesity and provide support."

Tags: UK News | Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Nutrition & Healthy Eating

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