Age at Weaning and Infant Growth: Primary Analysis and Systematic Review.
The Journal of pediatrics 2015 ; 167: 317-24.e1.
PubMed ID : 26073105
PMCID : PMC4520860
To test whether earlier age at weaning (age 3-6 months) may promote faster growth during infancy.
Weaning at age 3.0-7.0 months was reported by 571 mothers of term singletons in a prospective birth cohort study conducted in Cambridge, UK. Infant weight and length were measured at birth and at age 3 months and 12 months. Anthropometric values were transformed into age- and sex-adjusted z-scores. Three linear regression models were performed, including adjustment for confounders in a stepwise manner. Measurements at age 3 months, before weaning, were used to consider reverse causality.
Almost three-quarters (72.9%) of infants were weaned before age 6 months. Age at weaning of 3.0-7.0 months was inversely associated with weight and length (but not with body mass index) at 12 months (both P ≤ .01, adjusted for maternal and demographic factors). These associations were attenuated after adjustment for type of milk feeding and weight or length at age 3 months (before weaning). Rapid weight gain between 0 and 3 months predicted subsequent earlier age at weaning (P = .01). Our systematic review identified 2 trials, both reporting null effects of age at weaning on growth, and 15 observational studies, with 10 reporting an inverse association between age at weaning and infant growth and 4 reporting evidence of reverse causality.
In high-income countries, weaning between 3 and 6 months appears to have a neutral effect on infant growth. Inverse associations are likely related to reverse causality.