Objective: Difficult infant temperament is associated with higher weight status in infancy. However, the association of infant temperament, including regulatory capacities, has not been well studied as a possible predictor of future weight status in early childhood. We examined prospective associations of infant regulatory difficulties with obesity in early childhood in a large, diverse cohort.
Methods: We used data from 5750 children in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, excluding preterm infants and infants small or large for gestational age. Infant regulatory ability was measured at age 9 months by the Infant Toddler Symptom Checklist (ITSC). We created a multivariable logistic regression model comparing risk of obesity at preschool age in infants with ITSC scores ≥6 to infants with scores <6. We further examined the association when stratified by a measure of maternal sensitivity.
Results: The cohort of children was 48% non-Hispanic white, and 51% were boys. Twenty-one percent of children with ITSC scores ≥6 were obese at preschool age. Infants with ITSC scores ≥6 had 32% increased odds of being obese at preschool age (adjusted odds ratio 1.32 [95% confidence interval 1.03, 1.70]). The strongest association existed among children described as demanding attention constantly. There was no difference in the association when comparing mothers with high or low maternal sensitivity.
Conclusions: Infant regulatory difficulties are associated with a higher risk of obesity at preschool age. Helping parents manage and respond to difficult infant behaviors before preschool may serve as a focal point for future interventions.
Keywords: infant; obesity; regulation.
Copyright © 2016 Academic Pediatric Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.