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Low-Income Moms with Depression May Add Cereal to Bottles

Update Date: Apr 30, 2012 12:31 AM EDT

 

Photo: Flickr/Steven Wilke
Photo: Flickr/Steven Wilke

Mothers with symptoms of depression are more likely to add cereal to bottles, which is an unhealthy practice because it may lead to overfeeding and excess weight gain in infants.

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Mothers of 254 infants were asked if they ever added cereal to bottles to help their babies sleep longer or stay full longer. Results showed that 24 percent of mothers put cereal in bottles. Those with depressive symptoms were 15 times more likely to add cereal than mothers who did not have symptoms of depression.

"Depression is very common in low-income mothers and makes it more difficult to engage in beneficial parenting practices in general," said lead author Candice Taylor Lucas, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center. 

Results also revealed that mothers who were single were significantly more likely to add cereal to bottles. "This suggests that mothers' support systems and family dynamics may influence feeding practices," said obesity researcher and fellow investigator Mary Jo Messito, MD, FAAP.

Mothers who felt that their children had intense emotional reactions to daily routines were 12 times more likely to add cereal to bottles.

"Overall, these findings demonstrate that stressors prevalent in low-income households, such as depression, single parenthood and associated infant behavioral challenges, influence feeding practices likely to promote obesity," Lucas said.

"It is important to provide support for parents related to healthy feeding practices if we are to end the epidemic of childhood obesity," he added.

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