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American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not giving infants juice

Nicole Villalpando
nvillalpando@statesman.com
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children should eat fruit instead of drinking juice. Eric Boyd/Los Angeles Times

Children younger than age 1 should not be given fruit juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a recommendation release Monday. It’s the first change in the recommendations since 2001. Until this point, the recommendation just extended to the first six months of life.

Why? It’s loaded with sugar and high in calories. It can lead to unhealthy weight gain and tooth decay.

Recently restrictions for what children younger than 1 cannot eat increasingly been lifted. Pediatricians now want them to have things like peanut butter, which had been put on the “don’t list,” because it actually can help prevent future allergies.

That don’t list for children younger than 1 is now:

Raw honey (botulism)

Whole milk (not the right kind of fat and nutrients for infants)

Fruit juice (too much sugar)

Anything that is too large and would be a choking hazard.

For kids 1 and above, the academy recommends only juice that is 100 percent juice and only used with a healthy diet that includes whole fruits. Really, pediatricians would like you to limit fruit juice for all kids and instead rely on milk and water for liquids.

The recommendation: Fruit juice in Infants, Children and Adolescents will be in the June issue of Pediatrics.

The policy also includes these recommendations:

  • Intake of juice should be limited to, at most, 4 ounces daily for toddlers ages 1-3. For children ages 4-6, fruit juice should be restricted to 4 to 6 ounces daily; and for children ages 7-18, juice intake should be limited to 8 ounces or 1 cup of the recommended 2 to 2 ½ 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/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.

“There’s never been a question that whole fruits are the best choice for children — adults, too, for that matter,” says Dr. Steven Abrams, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, in a press release. He co-authored the policy statement. Abrams says. “On the other hand, water and low-fat milk are much better choices for most children. We just have to take a step back and realize that there are harmful consequences to consuming large amounts of juice by children.”

And if you thought soda was a good idea? Think again. Not because of the caffeine. It’s all about the sugar and empty calories.