Infant Feeding Varies Across Eating Behavior and Feeding Modalities in Mothers With Low Income

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OBJECTIVE: To examine if eating behaviors in mothers with low income relate to attitudes toward infant feeding and whether associations differed between breastfeeding and formula-feeding mothers. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. PARTICIPANTS: Forty postpartum women (aged ≥ 18 years, body mass index ≥ 25 and < 40 kg/m2) in the Louisiana Women, Infants, and Children program participated in a telehealth postpartum intervention for health and weight loss. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Maternal eating behaviors and infant feeding styles, assessed 6-8 weeks after birth (baseline) using validated questionnaires. ANALYSIS: Significance was detected using independent t tests, chi-square tests for independence, or linear models (P < 0.05). RESULTS: Most mothers formula-fed (n = 27, 68%). In formula-feeding mothers, maternal disinhibition and perceived hunger were positively associated with restrictive infant feeding (β = 0.41, P <0.001 and β = 0.41, P = 0.001, respectively). These relationships were significantly higher (Δ = -0.85, P = 0.006 and Δ = -0.59, P = 0.003, respectively) than among breastfeeding mothers. Comparatively, pressuring/overfeeding was lower in formula-feeding mothers than among breastfeeding mothers with dietary restraint (Δ slopes: 1.06, P = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: In this cohort of mothers with low income, maternal eating behavior was associated with infant feeding styles only when feeding modality was considered. Mothers may benefit from education on how their eating behaviors can influence their infants and children.

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Journal of nutrition education and behavior

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