07 Nov Poor Mom-Baby Interactions Linked to Increased Obesity in Children
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kai Ling Kong, PhD, MS
Division of Behavioral Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
State University of New York at Buffalo
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The deleterious effects that obesity has on an individual’s health and the difficulty of reversing it in adults are well-known, ranging from diabetes and heart disease to cancer. For these reasons, obesity prevention in babies and children in populations at high risk is increasingly seen as a critical way to address the obesity epidemic. However, most studies on factors that contribute to obesity in very young children haven’t focused on the populations most at risk.
Now an ongoing longitudinal University at Buffalo study being presented Nov. 5 in Las Vegas at ObesityWeek is among the first to explore how mother-infant behaviors during feeding and active play (non-feeding situations) affect infants and children in families with low socioeconomic status. Infants of mothers exhibiting less warmth during free play interactions when infants were 7 months old were associated with steeper body mass index trajectories while the infants of mothers exhibiting more warmth during these interactions were not.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: This finding provides initial evidence that early mother-child interactions during free-play had an enduring positive effect on the health outcomes of the children, especially obesity risk trajectories.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The prenatal period is a sensitive period of health and disease development. Insults that happen in the womb have lifelong consequences. But despite perturbations in fetal development, our study shows that it is possible to mitigate such insults during early childhood by warmth, responsive and sensitive parenting in one’s home environment especially in active play. An early home environments that promote comfort and pleasurable behaviors that are an alternative to eating may help mitigate young children’s food-seeking behavior and thus alter the trajectory of weight gain.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Findings demonstrate that such interactions provide a critical target for intervention. For example, an early intervention program in which parents are instructed how to identify and respond sensitively to infant hunger and satiety cues, with a goal to promote self-regulation, has demonstrated success in minimizing early rapid weight gain. Results from our current study extend this prior work, indicating that such interventions beginning in early infancy and focusing on play interactions may have long lasting impact on obesity risk among high-risk children.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Mother-infant dyads of this study were recruited from two local-area hospitals in Western New York, led by Dr. Eiden for an ongoing longitudinal study that was originally designed to examine developmental outcomes among children of mothers who used cocaine in the context of poly-substance exposure.
Obesity Week abstract 2019
Early Nonfood Parent‐Infant Interactions and Development of Obesity in a High‐Risk, Diverse Sample
Kai Ling Kong, Rina D. Eiden, Rocco A. Paluch
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