Published: Tue, May 23, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Parents urged to avoid giving babies fruit juice

Parents urged to avoid giving babies fruit juice

Juice is a frequent beverage of choice among US teenagers and children, who experts say would rather drink it than water.

Children younger than one should drink breast milk or formula, and should only drink fruit juice if advised by a doctor, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The sugary drinks can cause a variety of problems, including cavities, weight gain and diarrhea. After a child is weaned, water and milk should be the go-to drinks for kids, the pediatricians' group says. Because it takes longer to eat a piece of fruit than it does to consume a glass of fruit juice, which contains more calories, eating fruit can also help keep unwanted weight gain in check.

"I would typically have a kiddo that has three-quarter juice and then just a quarter of water, do that for a couple of weeks", Bergert said.

Juice in moderation is okay, but not as an everyday beverage, Bergert said, adding that milk and water are good alternatives.

Parents are being urged not to give their children fruit juice before the age of one.

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The guidelines-which hadn't been updated since 2001-now set a daily limit of four ounces of juice for ages 1 to 3, six ounces for ages 4 to 6, and eight ounces for ages 7 and up. The health experts have expressed concern that this method of consumption may prolong exposure of teeth to sugars in juice and lead to cavities.

Over past years, the Academy advised against offering fruit juice to children under the age of 6 months, but has expanded that time frame to include the entire first year of life.

The new guidelines recognize that 100 percent natural and reconstituted juice can be a healthy part of a child's diet.

Another update to AAP's recommendations is that parents should not give children juice in bottles or sippy cups that make it easy to consume throughout the day, nor should they be given juice at bedtime. Children and teens continue to be the top consumers of juice and juice drinks in the country, the group says.

For children ages four and up, pediatricians recommend introducing fresh fruits to their diet, rather than juices.

However, the academics do emphasise the importance of fresh, whole fruits in children's diets to boost fibre intake. However, the group said juice should count for no more than one of the two to two-and-a-half recommended servings of fruit per day.

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