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Early Child Care Linked to Adiposity in Toddlers

Association strongest in toddlers who received early child care in someone else's home

MONDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- Early child care -- especially in someone else's home -- is associated with increased measures of adiposity at ages 1 and 3 years, according to a study published in the August issue of Pediatrics.

Sara E. Benjamin, Ph.D., of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of 1,138 infants, including 649 (57 percent) who spent any time in child care between birth and age 6 months. Of these, 189 (17 percent) were enrolled in a child care center, 308 (27 percent) spent time in someone else's home, and 239 (21 percent) received own-home care from a non-parent.

The researchers found that children who spent greater amounts of time in child care were more likely to have an increased weight-for-length z score at the age of 1 year and an increased body mass index z score at 3 years of age. Although center care and own-home care were not associated with increased adiposity, the researchers found that care in someone else's home was significantly associated with increased weight-for-length z scores at the age of 1 year and increased body mass index z scores at the age of 3 years.

"Given that this is the most common type of child care in the United States, our results indicate a need for additional exploration of nutrition and physical activity practices in home-based child care and identification of opportunities for intervention," the authors conclude.

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