(HealthDay News) — Women who watch television (TV) during mealtimes in pregnancy are more likely to expose their infants to TV during feeding, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from May 3–6 in Vancouver, Canada.

Kenny Diaz, from New York University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues conducted a longitudinal study to examine the correlation between women’s TV watching during meals in pregnancy and infant TV exposure during feeding. The cohort included low-income Hispanic mother infant-dyads. Prenatal TV watching during meals was assessed during the third trimester in 189 women (mean age, 28 years), and infant TV watching during feeding was examined at age 3 months.

The researchers found that 71% of pregnant women reported watching at least some TV during mealtimes. One-third of the mothers reported exposing their infants to TV during feeding. The likelihood of exposing infants to TV during feeding was increased five-fold for women who watched TV during meals while pregnant. Younger mothers (<25 years) and those who did not exclusively breastfeed were more likely to expose their infant to TV during feeding. There was no correlation between total amount of time spent watching TV while pregnant and infants’ exposure to TV during feeding.

“Reinforcing healthy media habits during pregnancy may help reduce infants’ mealtime media exposure and impact long-term media habits in children,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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