“We tell our patients we want children to eat their fruit—not drink it,” said Angela Mattke, M.D., a pediatrician with Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. Dr. Mattke was responding to new recommendations that babies younger than 1 should not drink fruit juice. She supports the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations published yesterday in Pediatrics.
With rates of childhood obesity and dental health problems increasing, the AAP panel decided to revisit the issue of children younger than 1 drinking sugary juices. “The general conversation I’ve always had with patients is, we don’t want fruit juice to replace actual fruit,” Dr. Mattke said. “As a practice, we encourage minimizing use of fruit juice for all ages, but especially babies. Today’s recommendations just reinforce that.”
The AAP policy statement recommendations include:
- Intake of juice should be limited to, at most, 4 ounces daily for toddlers ages 1 to 3. For children ages 4 to 6, fruit juice should be restricted to 4 ounces to 6 ounces daily; and for children ages 7 to 18, juice intake should be limited to 8 ounces or 1 cup of the recommended 2 to 2-1/2 cups of fruit servings per day.
- Toddlers should not be given juice from bottles or easily transportable “sippy cups” that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day. The excessive exposure of the teeth to carbohydrates can lead to tooth decay, as well. Toddlers should not be given juice at bedtime.
- Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits and be educated about the benefits of the fruit as compared with juice, which lacks dietary fiber and may contribute to excessive weight gain.
- Human milk or infant formula is sufficient for infants, and low-fat or nonfat milk and water are sufficient for older children.
- Consumption of unpasteurized juice products should be strongly discouraged for children of all ages.
- Children who take specific forms of medication should not be given grapefruit juice, which can interfere with the medication’s effectiveness. In addition, fruit juice is not appropriate in the treatment of dehydration or management of diarrhea.
“Kids who tend to drink more sweetened beverages, specifically those who use a bottle or a sippy cup throughout the day, are constantly bathing their teeth in sugars and carbohydrates,” Dr. Mattke said.