Don't feed fruit juice in child's first year, say pediatricians

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If your baby is under 12 months old you shouldn't feed them any fruit juice, according to a new, tougher recommendation from top pediatricians.

Previously, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised that to avoid feeding fruit juice to infants up to 6 months of age. Parents are now encouraged to limit fruit juice consumption to four ounces a day for children ages of one to three and that juice should be 100 percent fresh or reconstituted juice.

"Parents may perceive fruit juice as healthy, but it is not a good substitute for fresh fruit and just packs in more sugar and calories", stated Dr. Melvin B. Heyman. The Academy, therefore, recommends eliminating 100% fruit juice from the diets of children with excessive weight gain but not necessarily from the diets of all children.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2003 and 2010 kids ate an increasing amount of whole fruit and drank less juice.

The AAP has advice on getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables.

Fruit juice has been marketed (and in some cases, recommended by physicians) as a healthy, natural source of vitamins and calcium.

By age 7, children typically consume less juice, so there's less for parents to worry about. Fruit generally contains additional fiber compared to juices.

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"Although juice consumption has some benefits, it also has potential detrimental effects", the journal article states. The new policy statement said juice offers no nutritional benefit to babies and shouldn't be included in their diet.

The new policy also recommends only four ounces of juice a day for toddlers and six ounces for pre-schoolers. In fact, excess consumption of juice may lead to diarrhea, abdominal distension, flatulence, and tooth decay. Abrams said the point is not to "get dogmatic about it", and kids can have some juice as part of a healthy diet.

The group's goal: get small children to stop drinking so much fruit juice and get them eating more whole fruit instead. "I do think there has been a lot of education in press about juice needing to be consumed in moderation", Shu said.

Consumption, however, should be limited depending on a child's age.

Families should be educated that human milk and/or infant formula is sufficient to satisfy fluid requirements for infants, and low-fat/nonfat milk and water are sufficient for older children.

She also said that if parents go for milk alternatives, like soy or almond milk, they should make sure there is no added sugar.

Grapefruit juice should be avoided in those taking certain medications (see policy).