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Non-parental care of infants tied to unfavorable feeding practices
Date:7/11/2008

With more new mothers in the workplace than ever before, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of child-care facilities in the United States.

At the same time, data from a variety of sources point to a growing prevalence of overweight infants and toddlers.

Is there a connection?

According to a new study co-written by University of Illinois community health professor Juhee Kim and Karen Peterson, a professor of nutrition and society at Harvard University's School of Public Health, child-care factors and feeding practices may indeed play a role.

"Our study is the first to report, to our knowledge ... the potential importance of infant child care on infant nutrition and growth," the researchers said in an article published in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a publication affiliated with the Journal of the American Medical Association. "The results of this study indicate that structural characteristics of child care, such as age at initiation, type and intensity, were all related to infant feeding practices and weight gain among a representative sample of U.S. infants."

Specifically, Kim and Peterson found that 9-month-old infants who routinely receive non-parental care provided by relatives, licensed day-care centers or more informal child-care providers may experience higher rates of unfavorable feeding practices. The babies also weigh more than those whose primary caregivers are their parents.

The researchers' findings could have significant public-health ramifications, as weight gain in infancy can ultimately be a predictor of obesity later in life.

Obesity, in turn, is linked to a number of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as adulthood morbidity and mortality.

In their study, Kim and Peterson analyzed baseline data from a nationally representative sample of 8,150 9-month-old infants to determ
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Contact: Melissa Mitchell
melissa@illinois.edu
217-333-5491
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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