(HealthDay News) — Feeding and activity behaviors of parents caring for infants differ by race and ethnicity, according to research published online March 17 in Pediatrics.

Eliana M. Perrin, MD, MPH, of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues questioned 863 parents (50% Hispanic, 27% black, 18% white; 86 percent Medicaid), who were participating in a randomized trial of child obesity prevention, about feeding and activity behaviors thought to increase risk of obesity.

The researchers found that 23% of parents of 2-month-olds propped bottles. Almost all infants (90%) were exposed to television, and 50% of parents reported active television watching; 66% did not meet recommendations for “tummy time.” Black parents were more likely to put children to bed with a bottle (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.97; P<0.004), prop bottles (aOR, 3.1; P<0.001), and report more television watching (aOR, 1.6; P=0.034) than white parents. Hispanic parents were more likely to encourage infants to finish feeding (aOR, 1.9; P=0.007), prop bottles (aOR, 2.5; P=0.009), and report less “tummy time” (aOR, 0.6; P=0.037) than white parents.

“Behaviors thought to relate to later obesity were highly prevalent in this large, diverse sample and varied by race/ethnicity, suggesting the importance of early and culturally-adapted interventions,” the authors write.

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