Formula-fed infants overfed by 25 per cent


Irish infants who are formula fed are consuming 25 per cent more formula milk than recommended which is worrying given the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in young children in Ireland, a new study has highlighted.

The first independent Irish study to specifically focus on the Irish mothers who formula feed found that some babies were consuming double the daily formula milk volumes recommended.

Dr -Roslyn Tarrant, a clinical paediatric and research dietitian, carried out the study of 450 mother-infant pairs in the Coombe Women and Infants’ University Hospital. She has previously published five papers on breastfeeding, but felt there was a real need for independent research on mothers who formula feed.

“This is an important population since the majority of mothers are formula feeding during the first six weeks postpartum and very little is documented or known about this population – 82 per cent of infants were formula fed at six weeks in this study.” she pointed out.

Dr Tarrant’s study, which has just been published in the journal Child Care in Practice, also found that some mothers were continuing to add solid foods to their babies’ bottle feeds, even as young as six weeks, which poses a choking risk.

Frequent formula feed switching during the first six weeks was observed and some babies were consuming an unsuitable formula milk for their age.

Importantly, 25 per cent of a sub-sample of mothers reported dissatisfaction with the formula feeding information received during the first six weeks, information which was pertinent to the safety and health of their babies.

Formula feeding was perceived by mothers to be more “convenient” and one that afforded them greater freedom than breast feeding.

They also reported that they would be more comfortable formula feeding in public.