Babies of obese mums likelier to be plunked in front of TV

Washington, January 9 (ANI): Moms, especially those who are obese, are more likely to use TV to quieten fussy and active infants, thus also causing greater likelihood of obesity in children, US nutritionists say.

The study, led by nutritionist Margaret E. Bentley, professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, is the first to examine the interplay of maternal and infant risk factors that lead to TV watching in infants.

Bentley's team looked at 217 first-time, low-income black mothers and babies from central North Carolina who were part of a five-year study looking at obesity risk in infants. The researchers followed the mothers and babies in their homes at 3, 6, 9 12 and 18 months of age, looking at TV exposure, sociodemographic and infant temperament data. They asked how often the TV was on, if a TV was in the baby's bedroom, and whether the TV was on during meal times. Researchers also interviewed the mothers about how they perceived their children's mood, activity levels and fussiness.

The researchers found that mothers who were obese, who watched a lot of TV and whose child was fussy were most likely to put their infants in front of the TV. By 12 months, nearly 40 percent of the infants were exposed to more than 3 hours of TV daily - a third of their waking hours. Households where infants were perceived as active and whose mothers did not have a high school diploma were more likely to feed their infants in front of the TV.

"Feeding infants in front of the TV can limit a mom's responsiveness in terms of examining infant cues, such as when an infant is telling mom he is no longer hungry," said Bentley, principal investigator and a professor of nutrition in UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health.

"This work has helped us design intervention strategies that will help teach moms how to soothe their babies, without overfeeding them or putting them in front of a TV."

The study was recently published in the journal Pediatrics. (ANI)