A new study says babies in day care are more likely to gain weight than those cared for at home. We asked pediatrician and momlogic contributor Dr. Cara Natterson if we should be concerned.
One out of every three children in this country is obese, and an estimated 17% of all American children are overweight. The issue of heaviness has grown to epidemic proportions. One study published this month tries to identify some of the earliest pieces in the puzzle: Does day care contribute to excessive weight gain?
The study demonstrates that infants attending day care gained an average of 0.4 pounds more in their first nine months of life than their peers who stayed home with mom or dad. The authors suggest a variety of explanations, including: less breastfeeding and more bottle feeding among day care attendees; early transition to solid foods among infants in day care; and a greater likelihood that an unhappy child will be soothed with food or drink in day care versus at home. In fact, children cared for at home by a relative (rather than a parent) also experienced greater weight gain than their parent-raised peers, though not quite as much as the kids in day care, a phenomenon that can be explained by many of the same factors.
There is good evidence that children who are overweight at age 2 are more likely to go on to be overweight adults. This data is not nearly as clear for infants. However, if there is some association here--particularly if non-parent caretakers are soothing babies with food or drink and instilling bad habits early on--then this study makes a very important point.
|Dr. Cara Natterson, author of Your Toddler: Head To Toe is a pediatrician and mother of 2. To buy a copy of her book, click here|