Aims To describe the early feeding experiences of parents from a UK wide birth cohort of babies with Down’s Syndrome (DS). Methods Babies under the age of eight months with DS are recruited from across the UK to the Feeding and Autoimmunity in Down’s Syndrome Evaluation Study (FADES). FADES has been established to explore the associations between early infant feeding, infections and the development of autoimmunity in DS.
Parents complete detailed feeding and medical questionnaires about their baby at birth, seven months, twelve months and yearly until the age of five years old.
Results Questionnaires exploring the initiation of feeds after birth have been completed by 40 participants, and until weaning at six months by 36 participants.
The majority of the mothers initially tried to breastfeed their babies (92.5%). However only three mothers (8.3%) were exclusively breastfeeding until the recommended six months. It is however important to note that at six months, the number of mothers exclusively breastfeeding their baby with DS is higher than the general population in England, which is 1% (Infant feeding survey 2010).
Conclusion Babies with DS can successfully breastfeed, as reported in this study. Many however, are subject to clinical intervention with over half felt to require naso-gastric feeding. There is a need for increased DS specific feeding information to be available to parents and healthcare professionals, the findings from this study will make an important contribution to providing this.
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