1Programma Gastroenterologia Pediatrica, Ospedale Maggiore, Bologna
2Dipartimento NEUROFARBA; Università di Firenze, AOU Meyer, Firenze
3Pediatria di famiglia, Castelfiorentino (Firenze)
4Pediatria di famiglia, Teramo
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Key words: Complementary feeding, Primary care paediatrician, Baby-led weaning
Background - Complementary feeding (CF) is a delicate phase in children’s growth.
The lack of evidence-based clinical recommendation on CF creates confusion and
leads to important differences of behaviour both among primary care paediatricians
Aim - This article reports two simple surveys carried out all over Italy that involved a sample of primary care paediatricians and one of families respectively, with the intention of describing the habits related to CF.
Methods - A 4-question questionnaire on timing and weaning methods, the use of industrial processed food and the use of a written scheme was sent to a group of 538 primary care paediatricians. A second 5-question questionnaire on the type of nursing, the timing and type of food used to complement milk (breastmilk or formula), the use or not of industrial processed food and the importance of paediatric indications was distributed to 1,435 families.
Results - Responses were received from 538 paediatricians and 1,199 families. Almost 90% of mothers in Italy start to breastfeed their babies, but this percentage is drastically reduced (almost by 50%) to six months of age. The fifth and the sixth month of infant life are the privileged months to start complementary feeding. This age is recommended by 91% of paediatricians and 73.7% of the parents follow this advice. The classic Italian baby food (rice or corn and tapioca flour with vegetable broth, parmesan, extra virgin olive oil and meat) is still very used and is recommended by 62.4% of paediatricians and used by 84.8% of households. Baby led weaning (BLW) has a rather marginal role as just 7.6% of the paediatricians indicate it and 8.3% of the families practice it, while 30% of the paediatricians propose a classic weaning with adult meal tastes. Industrial food is widely used, indeed 64.5% of paediatricians recommend it and 79.7% of households use it at least partially. More than 99% of households follow the paediatrician's instructions concerning weaning and 93.3% of the paediatricians give a written scheme to the parents.
Conclusions - Primary care paediatricians have a central role in managing the weaning time for Italian families. The use of Italian classic baby food is widespread, while BLW has a marginal role. Paediatricians rely on written schemes in most cases. It would be desirable that such schemes should not replace a training interview with parents that should provide families with few but clear indications based on scientific evidence.
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