Baby Steps: Examining Predictors of Infant Rapid Weight Gain Open Access

Basu, Devika (Summer 2018)

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Rapid weight gain (RWG) in the first six months of life has been established as a robust predictor of later obesity by numerous health and epidemiological studies. Research suggests that formula feeding and early introduction of complementary foods (i.e., infant cereal, solids) are strongly linked to greater weight gain in infancy. However, while much research has focused on feeding practices as determinants of RWG, few prospective studies have examined potential behavioral factors linked to feeding practices, namely maternal stress and infant temperament. The aims of the present study were to examine RWG in an at-risk African American (AA) sample to investigate whether 1) maternal perceived stress predicts infant overfeeding and subsequent RWG; and 2) infant fussiness interacts with maternal perceived stress to predict infant overfeeding. Study participants were mother-infant dyads (N=76) currently enrolled in a larger, ongoing project exploring maternal stress and infant development in AAs, a group that disproportionately experiences higher chronic stress and obesity. Results from growth curve analyses indicated that while introduction of complementary foods did not predict more RWG, ounces of formula per day did, suggesting that amount of formula may be a more sensitive indicator of risk. An interaction between maternal stress and infant temperament was not supported. Maternal perceived stress did significantly predict overfeeding, but in the opposite direction as hypothesized (OR = 0.94; 95% CI = 0.88-1.00; p < .05). Implications for feeding guidelines, particularly in at-risk populations, and limitations of the data are discussed.    

Table of Contents

I. Introduction. 1

Infant Rapid Weight Gain. 1

Infant Feeding Practices and Rapid Weight Gain.. 2

Maternal Stress. 3

The Role of Infant Temperament 4

The Present Study. 5

II. Method. 6

Participants. 6

Study Design and Procedure. 7

Measures. 7

Data Analyses. 11

III. Results. 12

Preliminary Analyses. 12

Hypothesis Testing. 13

IV. Discussion. 14

References. 20

Table 1. Sample Descriptive Statistics (N=76) 27

Table 2. Intercorrelations among Study Variables. 28

Table 3. Summary of Results from Mediation Regression Analyses (Maternal Stress as Predictor) 29

Table 4. Summary of Results from HLM Analyses Examining Slope of Weight Gain. 30

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