Infant Feeding: Racial and Ethnic Differences Require Culturally-Tailored Counseling

Dr. Eliana M. Perrin, MD, MPH Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, and Director, Office of Research Development University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  and Associate Professor Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7225MedicalResearch.com Interview Invitation with:
Dr. Eliana M. Perrin, MD, MPH
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, and Director, Office of Research Development
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  and
Associate Professor
Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7225

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Perrin: The study included a large, diverse sample of 863 low-income parents of two-month-olds participating in Greenlight, an obesity prevention trial taking place at four medical centers: UNC, New York University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Miami.  Among all of the parents, behaviors that are thought to be related to later obesity were highly prevalent. Exclusive formula feeding was more than twice as common (45 percent) as exclusive breastfeeding (19 percent). Twelve percent had already introduced solid food, 43 percent put infants to bed with bottles, 23 percent propped bottles instead of holding the bottle by hand (which can result in overfeeding), 20 percent always fed when the infant cried, and 38 percent always tried to get their children to finish their milk.  In addition, 90 percent of the infants were exposed to television and 50 percent actively watched TV (meaning parents put their children in front of the television in order to watch).  There were differences in these behaviors by race and ethnicity, and study results show that culturally-tailored counseling should be offered to parents of different backgrounds who may feed and play with their children differently.


MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Perrin: Yes, the high rates of both television exposure as well as active television watching were really unexpected. These are two month old children, so we really just did not expect them to be “watching” television!

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Perrin: We as pediatricians need to begin obesity prevention even earlier, and we can help parents learn some of the ways we think will keep their children healthy.  We cannot wait until the 12 or 18 month well child visit to begin to talk with families about television. We also should talk with families about not over-feeding. We should encourage parents to pay attention to cues as to whether their children are hungry or full. Parents look to us to provide guidance on these issues.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Perrin: Since counseling should be probably be culturally-tailored, we are hoping that our research and that of others sheds light on the best ways to do that. Also, we need to learn which of these potentially “obesogenic” behaviors are the most related to obesity and health problems later on in life.

Citation:

Racial and Ethnic Differences Associated With Feeding- and Activity-Related Behaviors in Infants
Eliana M. Perrin, Russell L. Rothman, Lee M. Sanders, Asheley C. Skinner, Svetlana K. Eden, Ayumi Shintani, Elizabeth M. Throop, and H. Shonna Yin

Pediatrics peds.2013-1326; published ahead of print March 17, 2014, doi:10.1542/peds.2013-1326

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