AAP: Introduce Red Meat at 6 Months?

According to the article Guidelines for Introducing Foods to Infants Being Developed, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discussed the idea of promoting red meat as the best first food to introduce to infants on October 17 at their AAP ConvergeNCE conference.

The write-up says that Frank R. Greer, MD, FAAP would talk about guidelines for feeding infants that are under development, and was going to address the idea that “Red meat is the nutrient-rich food that biologically may be best as the first complementary feeding for infants.”

I don’t know that this is a huge emergency as vegetarian and vegan parents can opt to ignore the guidelines (if they even find out about them). However, it does seem to be a step in the wrong direction in terms of the evolution of human nutrition and I thought it would be good to write the AAP a letter about it:


Dear American Academy of Pediatrics:

As a registered dietitian and animal protection advocate, I was disappointed to see that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) may be developing guidelines for feeding infants that recommend red meat as the best solid food with which to start infants (link).

I am concerned that this will frighten vegan and vegetarian parents into unnecessarily compromising their ethical values because they fear that they will harm their babies if they do not feed them meat.

And with the current epidemic of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes, starting infants on red meat could lead to poor eating habits later on. A 2011 prospective study has shown vegans to have a 60% reduced risk, and lacto-ovo vegetarians to have a 40% reduced risk, of diabetes as compared to meat-eaters:

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21983060

It would be best to start a new generation of Americans off with plant-based eating patterns rather than with meat-based, and I urge you not to give in to pressures from meat industry sources to promote red meat as a required, or even desirable, food for infants.

Sincerely,

Jack Norris, RD
President, Vegan Outreach

It might be good for others, especially health professionals, to write polite letters to the AAP expressing concerns about such guidelines and to ask them to consider a plant-based point of view.

You can contact them here.

4 Responses to “AAP: Introduce Red Meat at 6 Months?”

  1. Red Meat for Babies Says:

    [...] is now considering advising parents to feed their babies beef when they reach six months of age. Link. Spread the [...]

  2. Ryan Andrews Says:

    Thanks for posting this. Just submitted a letter to them.

  3. Jennifer @ kidoing! Says:

    This is really sad.

    What I found interesting when I read the first link from above was that Dr. Geer stated at the bottom of that article that exclusively breastfed infants need iron and zinc, which meat will provide to them. My son breastfed exclusively through 10 mos, and at the advice of his pediatrician, I had his iron tested because she thought it might be low and I preferred to not give him fortified rice cereal. Test results showed that his iron was on the high side (without supplementation either).

    I realize everyone is different, but do you know what the data is behind the statement that exclusively breastfed children need iron and zinc (as if they will become deficient if they automatically don’t take supplements or eat food with those at the age of six months)?

  4. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Jennifer,

    Babies are normally born with high levels of iron stores which they are able to use for the first 4 to 6 months. But breast milk is very low in iron and after 6 months of very little iron in their diet they have used up their stores and start to rely on dietary iron. Iron and zinc from plant foods is not as absorbable as from animal foods. So, that is why Dr. Greer said that. But, I’m glad to hear that your son’s iron levels were good even without supplementation.

Leave a Reply

*