Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Strained baby food products serve the admirable purpose in seeing through the transition of a child from a diet based purely on mother's milk to that consuming solid foods. Such a transition is necessary to train the child in using its tongue, tender teeth and the oral cavity for preparing the food for swallowing and further digestion in the GI tract. Canned versions of strained vegetables, fruits, meat, cereals and different combinations were the first ones to be launched and being adequately processed they provided safe food to the child without danger from contamination. Then came the bottled version which had the advantage of no migration of any soluble contaminants into the contents unlike metal containers. With the advent of plastics and laminates squeezable pouches appeared on the scene which were readily accepted by mothers finding them more convenient than the earlier versions of containers. Questions are now being raised regarding the possible draw backs these pouches might have on the development of the oral ingestion system and impact on teeth heath. Here is a commentary on the same by knowledgeable pundits based on their experience.   

"Those squeeze pouches full of organic pureed food in clever combos like plum, berry and barley have become a lifesaver for busy parents. The colorful foil packets with the built-in feeding tips have only been on the market about five years. They cost about twice as much as the average prepared baby food in jars — nearly $2 a pop — but many people say they beat the old-fashioned stuff by a spoon, because they don't require refrigeration or heating or even a utensil. And they appeal to kids who would rather run around than stop and eat. (We've even witnessed older kids snag their younger siblings' fun-to-squeeze snacks.) These assets make them popular at playgrounds, parks and with car seat jockeys everywhere, but is there a downside to all that slurping? Actually, there might be a couple of downsides for developing teeth and mouths, but they may not be any worse in some ways than what lots of toddlers already do: suck on sippy cups full of milk or juice all day. "The constant exposure of sugar on their teeth is detrimental," says Paul Casamassimo, the oral health research and policy center director at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. "My concern would be if the child walks around with this little pouch, then they might be doing the same thing," he says. In fact, the academy recommends ditching the sippy cup and going straight from bottle to cup between 12 and 15 months because of the potential risk of tooth decay. Casamassimo calls them "baby bottle methadone."Carbohydrates in all foods are used by bacteria to produce acid, and the acid eats away at the enamel of the teeth, creating the potential for cavities — a growing problem among all children, he says. And the pouch food, because of its consistency, may be particularly tough on teeth if it's allowed to sit there for long periods. "We know that tends to stick on teeth and prolong the opportunity for the bacteria to build," he says. Brushing kids' teeth twice a day and making them rinse with water after eating the pouch foods or drinking juice can help, Cassamassimo says. But what about potential injuries to children if the plastic feeding tip should jam into their teeth or gums while they're running around?"

Surprisingly the well established concept of training the child on sippy cups is also being challenged because of the likely impact it may have on tooth development. Of course strained foods with lot of sweetness can be a possible hazard by way of fostering growth of microbes that contribute to dental decay. The suggestion to brush the teeth twice a day may provide some relief but making the child consume water after each feeding also will go a long way to wash out the adhering food residue from the mouth avoiding dental decay. Weaning of a child from breast milk to semi-solid foods is a dedicated task and there is no scope for compromise on the desirable practices. A well looked after child is a sound citizen of tomorrow with healthy mind and body.


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