Background Dietary adequacy in infants and young children affects their current growth and health as well as their risk of adult onset diseases. Recognising the lifelong importance of nutrition, the Department of Health (DH) and Food Standards Agency (FSA) have devised guidelines for optimal nutrition in childhood. Are paediatricians aware of them?
Aim To audit paediatricians’ awareness of these current national feeding guidelines for infancy and early childhood.
Methods A questionnaire was devised by a multidisciplinary group to audit paediatricians’ knowledge of these national guidelines. The questions were based on: breastfeeding, introduction of cow's milk, management of cow's milk protein (CMP) allergy and vitamin supplementation. The guidelines recommend extensively hydrolysed protein formulas as alternatives for CMP allergy as soya milk contains phytoestrogens and can cause cross reactivity. Rice milk is to be avoided due to its arsenic content. The last question reflected the recent FSA publication on the nutritional equivalence of organic and non-organic food.
Results 110 paediatricians participated (Consultants: 40, Middle grades: 27, FY1-ST3: 43). The table below shows the percentage (%) of correct answers by groups.
Conclusion DH guidelines on exclusive breastfeeding and cow's milk introduction are widely acknowledged. Most recognise extensive hydrolysates as superior to soya but many are unaware about rice milks’ arsenic content. Respondents show poor awareness of vitamin supplementation advice for children. Many are informed of organic food's equivalent nutrient content.