No fruit juice for kids younger than 1, pediatricians advise

Posted May 23, 2017

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that children under 1 year of age should not drink juice.

Originally, it was advised that parents wait until the age of six months to give their children fruit juice but now parents are now encouraged to limit fruit juice consumption to 4 ounces a day for children ages one to three. Instead, they recommend parents offer whole fruits, which contain fiber that slows down the absorption of sugar in the body and make kids feel fuller than juice.

The group said that while a correlation between fruit juice and childhood obesity remains uncertain, it recommends eliminating 100 percent fruit juice from the diets of children with excessive weight gain, but not from the diets of all children. Toddlers should also not be given juice at bedtime, researchers recommend.

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"There's never been a question that whole fruits are the best choice for children - adults, too, for that matter", Abrams says.

The guidelines for older children may surprise parents too. This recommendation is based on the fact that whole fruit is considered to be superior than fruit juice that is just a source of sugar. The academy also strongly discourages unpasteurized juice products and says grapefruit juice should not be served to children taking certain medications - ibuprofen, flurbiprofen, warfarin, phenytoin, fluvastatin and amitriptyline - because it interferes with their effects. (Children this age need about 1 cup total of fruit per day, so the rest of the fruit should be whole fruit). Juice drinks are composed of up to 99% fruit juice and they are not equivalent in nutritional value to 100% fruit juice. Occasionally beneficialShu, who agrees with limiting juice in children's diets, said it's sometimes beneficial.

"One hundred percent fresh or reconstituted fruit juice can be a healthy part of the diet of children older than 1 year when consumed as part of a well-balanced diet".

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"We know that excessive fruit juice can lead to excessive weight gain and tooth decay", co-author Steven A. Abrams, MD, FAAP said.

In terms of portion, the new guidelines advise that toddlers ages 1-3 should only have up to a half-cup per day (4oz), and children ages 4-6 up to three-quarters cup per day (6oz). "I do think there has been a lot of education in press about juice needing to be consumed in moderation", Shu said. It was just time for doctors to take another look at something they hadn't considered in a while, he said.

The bottom line, Abrams said, is that "water and milk are preferable".

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