1 Section of Social Medicine, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet3 unknown4 Section of Social Medicine, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet5 Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
an observational study
BACKGROUND: Early introduction of complementary feeding may interfere with breastfeeding and the infant's self-controlled appetite resulting in increased growth. The aim of the present study was to investigate predictors for early introduction of solid food. METHODS: In an observational study Danish mothers filled in a self-administered questionnaire approximately six months after birth. The questionnaire included questions about factors related to the infant, the mother, attachment and feeding known to influence time for introduction of solid food. The study population consisted of 4503 infants. Data were analysed using ordered logistic regression models. Outcome variable was time for introduction to solid food. RESULTS: Almost all of the included infants 4386 (97%) initiated breastfeeding. At weeks 16, 17-25, 25+, 330 infants (7%); 2923 (65%); and 1250 (28%), respectively had been introduced to solid food. Full breastfeeding at five weeks was the most influential predictor for later introduction of solid food (OR = 2.52 CI: 1.93-3.28). Among infant factors male gender, increased gestational age at birth, and higher birth weight were found to be statistically significant predictors. Among maternal factors, lower maternal age, higher BMI, and being primipara were significant predictors, and among attachment factors mother's reported perception of the infant as being temperamental, and not recognising early infant cues of hunger were significant predictors for earlier introduction of solid food. Supplementary analyses of interactions between the predictors showed that the association of maternal perceived infant temperament on early introduction was restricted to primiparae, that the mother's pre-pregnancy BMI had no impact if the infant was fully breastfed at week five, and that birth weight was only associated if the mother had reported early uncertainty in recognising infant's cues of hunger. CONCLUSIONS: Breastfeeding was the single most powerful indicator for preventing early introduction to solid food. Modifiable predictors pointed to the importance of supporting breastfeeding and educating primipara and mothers with low birth weight infants to be able to read and respond to their infants' cues to prevent early introduction to solid food.