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Two Food Rules Might Be Making Our Kids Short

by Lisa René LeClair

Photograph by Twenty20

There are so many conflicting reports on child development that it’s hard for parents to know what to believe.

Take eggs. Many pediatricians recommend waiting a full year before incorporating egg whites into a child's diet to avoid to severe allergic reactions, but research in the June edition of Pediatrics suggests children as young as 6 months old may develop faster when given one egg daily.

In a randomized controlled trial, children 6 to 9 months were split into two groups and assigned a particular diet. The first group, consisting of 80 infants, was given one egg per child—daily. The remaining newborns (84) did not receive any eggs.

Findings showed that infants who ate one egg daily had a 47 percent lower rate of stunting (i.e., being too short for one’s age) and their length-for-age measurement dramatically increased. In addition, children who started eating eggs between 4 and 6 months had a 40 percent reduced risk of egg allergy compared to children who began eating eggs later in life.

Huh. But what if you ignored your pediatrician's advice and spoon-fed your baby scrambled eggs before their first birthday—and they’re still short. Is there anything Farmer Brown can do to help a mother out?

Well, let's look to dairy once again. Real dairy. CNN just reported that drinking non-cow milk is linked to shorter kids, meaning you might want to replace your So Delicious with real cows milk.

The study, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that each daily cup of non-cow's milk consumed was associated with 0.4 centimeters lower height than average for a child's age.

"We found that children who are consuming non-cow's milk like rice, almond and soy milk tended to be a little bit shorter than children who consumed cow's milk," Dr. Jonathon Maguire, the study's lead author and a pediatrician and researchers at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto., said. "For example, a 3-year-old child consuming three cups of non-cow's milk relative to cow's milk was on average 1.5 centimeters shorter."

So, what have we learned?

Eggs + cow's milk = taller kids. Of course, talk to your pediatrician before making any significant changes to your child's diet. And we're just the messenger here, so if this information clashes with your eating habits, remember no one is forcing anything!

Although Elsie makes a mean glass of milk, a baby's body cannot process it the same way as ours. The rule of thumb is to wait one year before starting in on it and before then breastmilk or formula.

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