Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day Care Babies Are Fatter

Reuters Health News came out with this piece today that touts a study (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, July 2008.) that claims that infants cared for by someone other than mom or dad are more apt to be exposed to "unfavorable" feeding practices and to gain more weight during their first year of life.

An excerpt from the article says:
Dr. Juhee Kim of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and co-investigator Dr. Karen E. Peterson of Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, analyzed data on child care arrangements, feeding practices, and weight gain collected for 8,150 infants who were 9 months old. More than half of these children received regular child care from someone other than a parent. They found that roughly 40 percent of infants placed in child care when they were younger than 3 months of age were less likely to have been breastfed and were more likely to begin to eat solid foods earlier than infants cared for by their parents.
Chalk up another study which illustrates the benefits of breastfeeding and stay at home moms (and dads) who care for their kids directly. The study gave yet more credence to other studies that suggest that breastfeeding may lower a child's risk of becoming overweight and that the early introduction of solid foods may increase the risk of obesity.
"Overwhelming and consistent data support the notion that early weight gain during infancy is a strong risk factor for (becoming) overweight in childhood and adulthood," Kim and Peterson note.

They also point out that the number of working moms of young children has more than doubled in the U.S., from 24 percent in 1970 to 57 percent in 2000. A recent study estimated that 72 percent of infants were in some form of child care during their first year of life. During this same time, the prevalence of overweight children ages 6 to 23 months increased from 7 percent to 12 percent.

"This study is the first to report the potential influence of infant child care on infant nutrition and growth," Kim added.
The results of this study garnered some pretty interesting statistics. I find it incredibly interesting that the increase in working moms correlates with childhood obesity. Of course, I am sure many other factors should be included - like genetics and the increase in corn syrup in our food supply, and that kids get less exercise in general these days; but the correlation is pretty startling.

While not all moms (and dads) can or want to stay at home and care for their children, it would seem that the data suggests that that it may be in fact the optimal model in child care. So all you "stay at home moms (and dads)" out there who feel somehow "less than" your professional and earning counterparts who have kids in daycare, take heart in the fact that you may be doing the best for your kids and family in the long run. (Yeah - I know that can be disputed... the debate has been with us since the women's liberation movement began...working and earning moms make some tough decisions and sacrifices too, and I commend them because I was once in their shoes up until I left corporate America after my 2nd child was born)