infant feeding practicesResearchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill recently published a study in the journal Social Science & Medicine. The study aimed to find a possible link between early infant feeding practices and increased risk of childhood and adult obesity.

Study participants were pulled from the U.S. Infant Care and Risk of Obesity Study. A total of 217 low-income mothers/infants were followed for 18 months after birth. Home visits started at three months and continued every three months until infants reached 18 months of age. Information about infant diet, household characteristics and maternal characteristics were used for the study.

More than 75-percent of the infants in the study were drinking juice or eating solid foods by three months.

Conclusion: Mothers who perceive infants as greedy, who suffer depression or live a single lifestyle, are more likely to practice age-inappropriate feeding. Excessive calorie intake in the first 18 months of life may be one factor in the development of obesity.

Source: Thompson AL, Bentley ME. The critical period of infant feeding for the development of early disparities in obesity. Soc Sci Med. 2012 Dec 17. pii: S0277-9536(12)00814-3. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.12.007.