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Infants Cared for in Another Home Become Heavier Toddlers
Date:7/30/2009

Being in own home, day-care centers didn't increase weight, study found

THURSDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- When infants attend day care in someone else's home, they're more likely to be heavier than average by the time they're toddlers, new research suggests.

Harvard researchers report in the August issue of Pediatrics that babies aged 6 months and younger who were cared for in someone else's home, rather than in their own home or at a day-care center, were more likely to weigh more in relation to their height at the ages of 1 and 3.

"An infant who was in child care in someone else's home in the first six months of life was 5 or so percentage points higher [on growth charts] at 1 or 3 years old than an infant who started at the same point but was cared for at home by another provider or at a center," said study author Sara Benjamin, a postdoctoral research fellow in the department of population medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Benjamin said it's not clear why this type of care may lead to heavier children. She said it could be a characteristic of the families that choose this type of care, or it could have something to do with this less formal day-care setting.

Between 9 percent and 12 percent of U.S. children under the age of 2 are overweight, according to background information in the study. Rapid weight gain during the first two years of life has been linked to becoming overweight later in childhood. Rapid weight gain in infancy has even been associated with higher blood pressure and wheezing in childhood and in adulthood.

In a random sample of 1,138 women, who began participating in the study while they were pregnant, 649 (57 percent) placed their infants in some sort of day care before they were 6 months old. Half of the babies included in the study were female, and two-thirds were white. About 15 percent were black and around 5 percent were Hispanic. For most fami
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