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Inexact Perception, but Most Moms Happy With Toddler Size

Maternal accuracy of perception and satisfaction differ according to the weight of the toddler

TUESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- Although most mothers are inaccurate in their perception of their toddler's weight, they are mainly satisfied with their toddler's body size, according to a study published in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Eric R. Hager, Ph.D., from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study of 281 low-income mother-toddler dyads to investigate the accuracy of maternal perception of toddler body size. In addition, the factors associated with the accuracy of perception and how maternal satisfaction correlated with accuracy were examined using a validated toddler silhouette scale.

The researchers found that almost 70 percent of the mothers were inaccurate in their assessment of their toddler's body size. Mothers of underweight toddlers were 9.13 times more likely to be accurate and mothers of overweight toddlers were 87 percent less likely to be accurate, compared with mothers of healthy-weight toddlers. Toddler age, gender, or race, and mother's education or weight status had no impact on accuracy. Satisfaction with toddler's body size was high and was seen for more than 70 percent of all mothers and 81.7 percent of mothers of overweight toddlers. Compared with accurate mothers of healthy-weight toddlers, accurate mothers of underweight toddlers were less likely to be satisfied (30.0 versus 76.8 percent).

"The majority of mothers were satisfied with their toddler's body size, yet were inaccurate in their perception of their child's actual body size," the authors write. "Accuracy and satisfaction differ by the weight status of the toddler."

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