Day care babies gain more weight: study
Infants cared for by someone other than mom or dad are more apt to be exposed to “unfavorable” feeding practices and to gain more weight during their first year of life, a new study shows, which could contribute to childhood weight problems.
“Parents may want to have enough communication with child care providers about when, what and how to feed their babies during their stay in day care, which is important to avoid potential risk of overfeeding or underfeeding at home,” Dr. Juhee Kim of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Reuters Health.
Kim and co-investigator Dr. Karen E. Peterson of Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, analyzed data on child care arrangements, feeding practices, and weight gain collected for 8,150 infants who were 9 months old. More than half of these children received regular child care from someone other than a parent.
The researchers found that the roughly 40 percent of infants placed in child care when they were younger than 3 months of age were less likely to have been breastfed and were more likely to begin to eat solid foods earlier than infants cared for by their parents.
There is evidence from other studies to suggest that breastfeeding may lower a child’s risk of becoming overweight and that the early introduction of solid foods may increase the risk.
They also found that infants in part-time child care (about half of the group) gained 175 grams (approximately 0.4 pounds) more weight during 9 months than infants who were cared for by their parents. Infants cared for by relatives gained 162 grams (roughly 0.35 pounds) more weight, had a higher rate of early introduction to solid foods and were less likely to ever be breastfed.
“Overwhelming and consistent data support the notion that early weight gain during infancy is a strong risk factor for (becoming) overweight in childhood and adulthood,” Kim and Peterson note.
They also point out that the number of working moms of young children has more than doubled in the U.S., from 24 percent in 1970 to 57 percent in 2000. A recent study estimated that 72 percent of infants were in some form of child care during their first year of life. During this same time, the prevalence of overweight children ages 6 to 23 months increased from 7 percent to 12 percent.
“This study is the first to report the potential influence of infant child care on infant nutrition and growth,” Kim added.
SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, July 2008.
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