BUJUMBURA March 29th (ABP) – On the occasion of the annual pediatric congress organized by the Burundian pediatric association (ABUPED) on Friday March 25, 2022 in Bujumbura, Dr Léopold Barutwanayo, pediatrician at Kira hospital (in Muha commune of the Bujumbura City Council), gave a presentation on food diversification in children: New concepts.
Dr. Barutwanayo specified that dietary diversification in infants corresponds to the introduction of a solid or liquid diet other than breast milk (or infant milk).
That is a crucial period, he underlined, which raises many questions and wandering. He did not forget to mention that the progress of research in the field of pediatric nutrition has made it possible to change certain concepts and in particular to lower the age at which certain foods known to be allergenic are introduced.
According to Dr. Barutwanayo, the WHO recommends the start of diversification at 6 months, the age at which, theoretically, motherhood alone no longer covers the nutritional needs of infants. He added that breast milk also remains an important source of energy and nutrients for children aged 6 to 23 months.
That health professional said that diversification can be introduced from 4 months. It obeys general principles: textures of food, nutritional needs, tastes of the child and must adapt the texture of food to the psychomotor development and masticatory abilities of the child.
Guiding principles have been issued by the WHO for adequate complementary feeding, including continued breastfeeding up to 2 years or more, compliance with hygiene rules, gradual increase in the frequency, quantity and consistency of meals, he added.
He also indicated that smooth and creamy purees are introduced between 4 and 6 months, grainy purees are offered around 7-10 months, then soft textures around 10-12 months. Foods that are hard but soluble and melt in the mouth can be given around 10-12 months. According to Dr. Barutwanayo, attention must be paid to the lipid intake of infants, because the lipid requirements of infants are higher than those of older children, in particular because of their brain development.
Pediatrician Barutwanayo clarified that diversification usually starts with vegetables and fruits. Purees are prepared by mixing vegetables with as many potatoes or starches, cooked in water, with little or no salt. If possible, meat and fish should be introduced between 4 and 6 months, the introduction of peanuts between 4 and 6 months reduces the risk of peanut allergy.
However, some foods are not recommended during infancy, the pediatrician said. He cited that honey is not recommended before the child reaches a year, unpasteurized cheeses, raw or undercooked meats before 10 years. Conventional cow’s milk is not nutritionally suitable for infants under the age of one. He also added that many preconceived ideas are currently challenged by research, explaining that it has been shown that the early introduction of foods known to be allergenic including peanuts, eggs, sesame between 4 and 6 months, decreases the risk of food allergy in children.