By Sarah Best.
"Babies need solid food - not just breast milk" shouted the front page headline of yesterday's Times, in just one manifestation of a story that appeared across the mainstream media. "Experts warn of disease and allergy risk," continued the report. "Mothers should not feed their babies on exclusively breast milk for the first six months because of the risk of the infants developing allergies, child health experts warn today."
"The government announced that it would review research on breastfeeding from child health doctors who wrote in the British Medical Journal that the existing policy could leave babies more likely to suffer harmful deficiencies, food allergies and disease that causes food intolerance."
And today's Independent carries the unsurprising headline, "New breastfeeding advice leaves mothers angry and confused".
Wherever there is contradictory scientific evidence, and therefore advice - and show me a realm of nutrition where there isn't - there is no better remedy than a dose of common sense.
Before we had jarred, pureed baby foods (and blenders so we could whizz up our own) at what age would human infants have started eating solid foods? Presumably, only when they had enough teeth for the endeavour. And the number of teeth the average infant under six months has is precisely zero.
Did nature make a mistake? We can probably assume not.
How can the raw, fresh, whole, unprocessed food that nature provides for babies cause allergies or deficiencies in little ones who don't yet have the anatomy to be able to consume any other natural food? Only if the mother's diet is deficient, or contains foods which are allergenic.
This study may well have highlighted an issue that needs addressing but unfortunately the headlines and reports it generated will only serve to discourage women from following the World Health Organization's clear guideline to breastfeed exclusively for six months - advice that, according to statistics, less than 20% of UK and US mothers are following.
By the age of just three months well over half of our babies are existing on a diet of cooked, powdered, highly processed dairy or soya formula, full of alien and potentially allergenic substances they would never have been exposed to in nature, including synthetic vitamins and minerals, but devoid of the elaborate symphony of raw nutrients their bodies are (literally, a lot of the time) crying out for.
There is certainly a big problem with deficiencies and allergies among our infants - one with potential lifelong repercussions on digestion, immunity and overall health - but most of the cases are not to be found among the privileged few who are fed the way nature intended.