Food security during infancy: implications for attachment and mental proficiency in toddlerhood

Matern Child Health J. 2009 Jan;13(1):66-80. doi: 10.1007/s10995-008-0329-1. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Objective: This study examined the associations between household food security (access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food) during infancy and attachment and mental proficiency in toddlerhood.

Methods: Data from a longitudinal nationally representative sample of infants and toddlers (n = 8944) from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-9-month (2001-2002) and 24-month (2003-2004) surveys were used. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the direct and indirect associations between food insecurity at 9 months, and attachment and mental proficiency at 24 months.

Results: Food insecurity worked indirectly through depression and parenting practices to influence security of attachment and mental proficiency in toddlerhood.

Conclusions: Social policies that address the adequacy and predictability of food supplies in families with infants have the potential to affect parental depression and parenting behavior, and thereby attachment and cognitive development at very early ages.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parents / psychology