For babies who went to day-care centers, the average number of hours spent in day care was 11.3 per week, care at home by someone other than a parent averaged 9.6 hours a week, and care in someone else's home (which could include a family member, friend, neighbor, or licensed care provider) averaged 11.7 hours a week.
The researchers found that the more time a child spent in day care, the heavier the child was. Benjamin said there didn't appear to be a critical cut-off period, but that the relationship was linear, with weight rising as the number of hours spent in day care increased.
But when they further analyzed the data, they discovered that this relationship was only significant when care was provided in someone else's home, and that it wasn't an issue when care was provided in the child's home or at a day-care center.
The growth charts used in the study were from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which pediatricians commonly use to assess a child's height and weight, and which take into account the child's age. Benjamin explained that if two infants had started in the 50th percentile of weight for their height and age, that the one who was cared for at home or in a day-care center would likely stay in the 50th percentile, while the one cared for in someone else's home would probably jump to the 55th percentile in weight.
One factor that might play a role, said Benjamin, is activity. While parents might not think about activity for an infant, even just getting out of the crib and having supervised tummy time can be activity for an infant.
"Parents often ask me when they need to get concerned about their child's weight, and I tell them before the child is born," said Dr. Goutham Rao, clinical director of the Weight Management and Wellness Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "Being healthy during pregnancy and p
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