Infant Feeding Practices and Subsequent Dietary Patterns of School-Aged Children in a US Birth Cohort

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J Acad Nutr Diet


BACKGROUND: Infant feeding practices are thought to shape food acceptance and preferences. However, few studies have evaluated whether these affect child diet later in life.

OBJECTIVE: The study objective was to examine the association between infant feeding practices and dietary patterns (DPs) in school-aged children.

DESIGN: A secondary analysis of data from a diverse prospective birth cohort with 10 years of follow-up (WHEALS [Wayne County Health Environment Allergy and Asthma Longitudinal Study]) was conducted.

PARTICIPANTS/SETTING: Children from the WHEALS (Detroit, MI, born 2003 through 2007) who completed a food screener at age 10 years were included (471 of 1,258 original participants).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The main outcome was DPs at age 10 years, identified using the Block Kids Food Screener.

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS PERFORMED: Latent class analysis was applied for DP identification. Breastfeeding and age at solid food introduction were associated with DPs using a 3-step approach for latent class modeling based on multinomial logistic regression models.

RESULTS: The following childhood DPs were identified: processed/energy-dense food (35%), variety plus high intake (41%), and healthy (24%). After weighting for loss to follow-up and covariate adjustment, compared with formula-fed children at 1 month, breastfed children had 0.41 times lower odds of the processed/energy-dense food DP vs the healthy DP (95% CI 0.14 to 1.25) and 0.53 times lower odds of the variety plus high intake DP (95% CI 0.17 to 1.61), neither of which were statistically significant. Results were similar, but more imprecise, for breastfeeding at 6 months. In addition, the association between age at solid food introduction and DP was nonsignificant, with each 1-month increase in age at solid food introduction associated with 0.81 times lower odds of the processed/energy-dense food DP relative to the healthy DP (95% CI 0.64 to 1.02).

CONCLUSIONS: A significant association between early life feeding practices and dietary patterns at school age was not detected. Large studies with follow-up beyond early childhood that can also adjust for the multitude of potential confounders associated with breastfeeding are needed.

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