The nation’s top pediatricians are advising parents to stop giving fruit juice to children in the first year of life, saying the drink is not as healthful as many parents think.
In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics had advised parents to avoid 100 percent fruit juice for babies younger than 6 months. On Monday, the group toughened its stance against juice, recommending that the drink be banned entirely from a baby’s diet during the first year. The concern is that juice offers no nutritional benefits early in life, and can take the place of what babies really need: breast milk or formula and their protein, fat and minerals like calcium, the group said.
This is the first time the pediatricians group has updated its guidelines on fruit juice since 2001.
I think this is a fantastic recommendation for infants, and it’s long overdue, said Dr. Elsie M. Taveras, chief of the division of general pediatrics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, who was not involved in the new report. Parents feel their infants need fruit juices, but that’s a misconception.
The new recommendations may surprise parents who thought 100 percent fruit juice was healthy for babies, or nutritionally equivalent to fruit itself.
Whole fruit is “less of a pure sugar intake,” Dr. Abrams said. “We want kids to learn how to eat fresh foods. If you assume fruit juice is equal to fruit, then you’re not getting that message.”
Dr. Man Wai Ng, the dentist in chief at Boston Children’s Hospital, applauded the ban on juice for infants and took a hard-line stance for preschoolers and older children. One hundred percent fruit juice should be offered only on special occasions, especially for kids who are at high-risk for tooth decay, she said.
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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President