Washington, Jan 9: Researchers say obese mothers are more likely to use TV to quieten fussy and active infants, thus also causing greater likelihood of obesity in children, find nutritionists in the US.
Principal study investigator 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.
“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, the journal Paediatrics reports.
“This is the first time anyone has looked at infant factors and the interaction between maternal and infant characteristics in shaping TV behaviour across infancy. And that’s important because mom and infant behaviors are inextricably linked,” said Amanda L. Thompson, biological anthropologist at the North Carolina College of Arts and Sciences, study co-author.
Bentley’s team looked at 217 first-time, low-income 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 three, six, nine, 12 and 18 months of age, looking at TV exposure, socio-demographic and infant temperament data, according to a North Carolina statement.
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.
They 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 three 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.