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Infant Feeding Behaviors Vary by Race and Ethnicity

Early feeding and activity behaviors are thought to relate to child obesity

TUESDAY, March 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Feeding and activity behaviors of parents caring for infants differ by race and ethnicity, according to research published online March 17 in Pediatrics.

Eliana M. Perrin, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues questioned 863 parents (50 percent Hispanic, 27 percent black, 18 percent white; 86 percent Medicaid), who were participating in a randomized trial of child obesity prevention, about feeding and activity behaviors thought to increase risk of obesity.

The researchers found that 23 percent of parents of 2-month-olds propped bottles. Almost all infants (90 percent) were exposed to television, and 50 percent of parents reported active television watching; 66 percent did not meet recommendations for "tummy time." Black parents were more likely to put children to bed with a bottle (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.97; P < 0.004), prop bottles (aOR, 3.1; P < 0.001), and report more television watching (aOR, 1.6; P = 0.034) than white parents. Hispanic parents were more likely to encourage infants to finish feeding (aOR, 1.9; P = 0.007), prop bottles (aOR, 2.5; P = 0.009), and report less "tummy time" (aOR, 0.6; P = 0.037) than white parents.

"Behaviors thought to relate to later obesity were highly prevalent in this large, diverse sample and varied by race/ethnicity, suggesting the importance of early and culturally-adapted interventions," the authors write.

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