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Pediatrics. 2012 Jan;129(1):132-40. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0972. Epub 2011 Dec 26.

Quality of early maternal-child relationship and risk of adolescent obesity.

Author information

1
Division of Epidemiology, The Ohio State University College of Public Health, Columbus, Ohio, USA. sanderson@cph.osu.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The goal of this study was to determine whether obesity in adolescence is related to the quality of the early maternal-child relationship.

METHODS:

We analyzed data from 977 of 1364 participants in the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Child attachment security and maternal sensitivity were assessed by observing mother-child interaction at 15, 24, and 36 months of age. A maternal-child relationship quality score was constructed as the number of times across the 3 ages that the child was either insecurely attached or experienced low maternal sensitivity. Adolescent obesity was defined as a measured BMI ≥95th percentile at age 15 years.

RESULTS:

Poor-quality maternal-child relationships (score: ≥3) were experienced by 24.7% of children compared with 22.0% who, at all 3 ages, were neither insecurely attached nor exposed to low maternal sensitivity (score: 0). The prevalence of adolescent obesity was 26.1%, 15.5%, 12.1%, and 13.0% for those with risk scores of ≥3, 2, 1, and 0, respectively. After adjustment for gender and birth weight, the odds (95% confidence interval) of adolescent obesity was 2.45 (1.49-4.04) times higher in those with the poorest quality early maternal-child relationships (score: ≥3) compared with those with the highest quality (score: 0). Low maternal sensitivity was more strongly associated with obesity than insecure attachment.

CONCLUSIONS:

Poor quality of the early maternal-child relationship was associated with a higher prevalence of adolescent obesity. Interventions aimed at improving the quality of maternal-child interactions should consider assessing effects on children's weight and examining potential mechanisms involving stress response and emotion regulation.

PMID:
22201144
PMCID:
PMC3255468
DOI:
10.1542/peds.2011-0972
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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