Pediatricians used to advise against giving fruit juice to babies under the age of 6 months.
But a new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics says children under the age of 1 should not drink fruit juice because of concerns about tooth decay and childhood obesity.
The group’s goal: get small children to stop drinking so much fruit juice and get them eating more whole fruit instead. After a child is weaned, water and milk should be the go-to drinks for kids, the pediatricians’ group says.
The doctors also advised against letting toddlers drink juice from sippy cups.
“The problem is, parents will stick a bottle or sippy cup in the kid’s mouth and kind of leave it there all day. That’s not good from the calorie-intake perspective, and it’s sure not good for the teeth,” Steven A. Abrams, chairman of the pediatrics department at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, and co-author of the policy statement, told CNN.
“What happens is, the kid then gets used to all the sugar, and then they won’t drink water.”
This is the group’s first change concerning fruit juice consumption since 2001. The new recommendation was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
“Historically, fruit juice was recommended by pediatricians as a source of vitamin C and as an extra source of water for healthy infants and young children,” the new recommendation says.
“Fruit juice is marketed as a healthy, natural source of vitamins and, in some instances, calcium. Because juice tastes good, children readily accept it. Although juice consumption has some benefits, it also has potential detrimental effects.
“High sugar content in juice contributes to increased calorie consumption and the risk of dental caries (cavities). In addition, the lack of protein and fiber in juice can predispose to inappropriate weight gain (too much or too little).”
There’s no new science at work here, Abrams told CNN. It was just time for doctors to take another look at something they hadn’t considered in a while, he said. Children and teens continue to be the top consumers of juice and juice drinks in the country, the group says.
One of the most common questions parents ask pediatricians is how much fruit juice they should give their children, the group says on the AAP website, which details the changes.
The AAP policy published in 2001 recommended no fruit juice for children younger than 6 months of age, 4 to 6 ounces daily for children ages 1 to 6 years, and 8 to 12 ounces for children 7 and older.
The new advice: No fruit juice for children younger than 1, 4 ounces daily for children 1 to 3 years, 4 to 6 ounces for children 4 to 6 years, and 8 ounces or 1 cup of the recommended 2 to 2 1/1 cups of fruit servings a day for children 7 and older.
“The literature regarding the contribution of 100% juice to obesity development remains uncertain with recent studies failing to identify a clear connection, especially in children over age 6.” the academy’s website says.
“The Academy, therefore, recommends eliminating 100% fruit juice from the diets of children with excessive weight gain but not necessarily from the diets of all children.”
Pediatricians would prefer parents give their children fresh fruit instead of fruit juice because it has more dietary fiber and less sugar than juice. But, the AAP says, 100 percent fresh or reconstituted fruit juice – as part of an otherwise healthy diet – is fine for children over the age of 1.
“We couldn’t really see any reason why juice was still part of the potential recommendation for 6- to 12-month-old kids,” Abrams told CNN.
“We recommend breastfeeding or formula in that age group, and there really isn’t any need or beneficial role for juice, so we kind of made that adjustment.”