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Kids Are Getting Too Much Fruit Juice

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The AAP's recommendations:

  • Juice should not be given to infants under 6 months of age.
  • After 6 months of age, infants should not get juice from bottles or cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day.
  • Infants should not get fruit juice at bedtime.
  • For children aged 1-6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to four to six ounces a day.
  • For children 7-18, juice intake should be between eight and 12 ounces a day.
  • All children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits.

When infants take in large amounts of juice instead of breast milk or formula -- or when toddlers drink juice instead of milk or other foods -- the risk is malnourishment and improper physical development, including short stature, says Cochran.

"There is no nutritional reason to feed juice to infants younger than 6 months," Cochran tells WebMD. In fact, according to the policy statement, "Offering juice before solid foods are introduced into the diet could risk having juice replace breast milk or infant formula in the diet. This can result in reduced intake of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc."

Tooth decay in infants and toddlers has been linked with excess juice consumption. "We do not encourage use of 'sippy' cups or putting infants to bed with juices because it promotes tooth decay," he tells WebMD.

Also, infants and young children given too much juice can develop chronic diarrhea, gas, bloating and abdominal pain, says Cochran. "I see many kids with chronic diarrhea, and the reason is they're consuming too much juice," he tells WebMD. "All I do is have them cut back on the juice and the diarrhea goes away. The reason: they're overloading the intestinal track with too much carbohydrate, which ... makes you pass a lot of gas and get diarrhea."

As kids reach adolescence, the potential for obesity escalates as kids ingest too many high-calorie sodas, Cochran says. "A lot of people don't think about all the calories," he tells WebMD. "We also see problems in decreased bone mineralization, because they are not consuming milk." In fact, an estimated 75% of girls are not consuming enough milk, he says.

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