Health problems that affect many Irish adults may be linked to how they were fed as babies new research has revealed.
The report, which was published by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), revealed that the way in which we feed our infants is “far from ideal.”
The research revealed that childhood and in turn adult obesity has links to poor infant feeding practices.
Ireland has the lowest breastfeeding rate in Europe with only half of Irish mothers choosing to breastfeed their babies.
The report revealed that the majority of mothers who do not breastfeed make the decision before their child is born.
In addition, seven out of ten Irish babies are being weaned onto solid food too early.
Ireland has the lowest breastfeeding rate in Europe
Speaking to The Irish Examiner, FSAI chief specialist in public health nutrition Dr Mary Flynn is shocked by the number of Irish parents who feed their babies junk food, which is over 15 per cent.
“Of even greater concern, is the use of foods that should never be part of an infant’s diet such as crisps, chocolate pudding and soft drinks which are being given to some babies as young as six months old.”
“We now know that the timing and types of foods that are introduced during the first year of life can impact on life-long risk of hypertension, heart disease, coeliac disease and even diabetes.
“Infants are not ‘small adults’ and good feeding practice is quite a complex process,” she said.
FSAI’s Ita Saul said more needs to be done by the Irish government to support and encourage mothers to breastfeed their children.
“During the first year of life, babies triple their birth weight and double their surface area making this a period of very rapid growth which is never repeated during the life cycle.
“More work needs to be done to increase the number of babies being breast fed in Ireland today and to improve weaning practices in terms of when solid food is first introduced and what types of foods are used.”