Health
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Visually Impaired Group
The Seaford Visually Impaired Support Group meets in the activity room of the Methodist Manor House meets June 3 and 17 from 1:30-3 p.m. There is no charge and the group is open to the public. For more information call the groupís facilitator, Robert Gray at 629-6204.
American Dietetic Association study on infant diets

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital

In January 2004 the American Dietetic Association published a study on infant diets. The study found some interesting things about the way we feed infants in this country. We do not always control the types of food that our infants eat. However, we do control the amount they are offered. That means that one of the things we control is total calories eaten per day. We should only give children as many calories to eat as they burn up The study showed that 10 percent of infants between four- and six-months of age were overfed. At seven to 12-months the number goes up to 23 percent. By 12 to 24-months of age, 31 percent of children are being offered too many calories. Infants need about 100-120 calories per kilogram per day to gain weight. For the typical infant at four to six months of age, this is between 700-840 calories per day. Formula is the primary portion of the diet at this age. An infant could get that number of calories by drinking 35-41 ounces of formula per day. Any infant drinking over that amount will gain excess weight. If the infant eats baby food, then the milk intake should be even lower. There are 20 calories in an ounce of formula. Baby foods have the calories listed on them. This should be an easy task. Choices of food are a little harder to control because children have likes and dislikes. The good news is that most children will eat a balanced diet if given enough variety of food. The best way to make sure every child gets adequate vitamins is to give such a balanced diet. Those children who do not get such a balance may need vitamin supplements. When we look at the type of foods offered to children, there is room for improvement there as well. One of the more amazing things about the study was related to types of vegetables offered to children. In general vegetables tend to be a healthy food to eat. However, at age 9 to11 months, french fries were one of the three most common vegetables offered to children. By 15 to 18 months of age french fries become the most common vegetable offered to children. On any given day one-quarter of the children in this age group eat french fries. Pure fruit juice is a source of nutrients for children. However, when they are not drinking formula or milk, children tend not to drink pure fruit juice. They are more likely to drink other sweetened drinks. On any given day about half of children between 19 to 24 months of age are consuming sweetened drinks. One of the things that I used to preach to parents of toddlers was that desserts contain empty calories and are best not used frequently. The usual response was that I was being anti-American (or at least anti-apple pie) in making such a comment. It is no surprise that more than 60 percent of children between 19 to 24 months receive a baked dessert on any given day. Other snack foods that are small and hard, such as any form of chip, are not only poor nutritionally, but also present a choking hazard in young children. They can inhale a particle of chip if they start talking before it is completely swallowed. Feeding young children is something that we often take for granted. However, we are establishing eating habits that will serve as a model for the rest of their lifetime. We need to realize this and plan for it to be done as carefully as any other thing that we do for them.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.