Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 12, pp 1805–1814 | Cite as

Comparison of High and Normal Birth Weight Infants on Eating, Feeding Practices, and Subsequent Weight

  • Cathleen Odar StoughEmail author
  • Christopher Bolling
  • Cynthia Zion
  • Lori J. Stark


Objectives High birth weight (HBW ≥ 4000 g) infants are at increased risk for obesity, but research has yet to identify the mechanism for this increased risk and whether certain subsets of HBW infants are at greater risk. Methods This exploratory study examined child eating behaviors and maternal feeding practices and beliefs across 21 HBW and 20 normal birth weight (NBW, 2500–3999 g) infants at 7–8 months of age using maternal-report measures (n = 41) and a bottle feeding task (n = 16). Results HBW infants were at increased risk for high weight-for-length at 7–8 months (F (2, 38) = 6.03, p = .02) compared to NBW infants, but no statistically significance differences on weight gained per day since birth, child eating behaviors, or most maternal feeding practices and beliefs were found between HBW and NBW infants. However, HBW infants who maintained a high weight-for-length (≥ 85th percentile) at 7–8 months had a higher birth weight, gained more weight per day, and had lower maternal-reported satiety responsiveness and maternal social interactions during feedings than their HBW counterparts who were currently below the 85th percentile. Conclusions for Practice HBW infants did not differ from NBW infants on eating behaviors and feeding practices, but children born at HBW who maintain excess weight during infancy do differ from those infants who fall below the 85th percentile for weight-for-length. Future research should identify risk factors that longitudinally differentiate HBW infants at greatest risk for maintaining excess weight and develop early screening and intervention efforts for this subset of at-risk infants.


Infant feeding behavior High birth weight Appetite Feeding practices 



We would like to acknowledge funding from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK; T32 DK063929) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1 TR001425). We would also like to thank the Schubert Research Clinic, especially Suzanne Summer, Jennifer Hunt, and Molly Bowling, for completing participant anthropometric measurements. Many thanks are also due to Children's for Children, especially Kathy Haders and the teachers and parents in the infant classrooms, for their help with participant recruitment and piloting the NFANT feeding device. We would also like to thank Pediatric Associates PSC for their help with and openness to recruitment at their practice. Thank you to Jared Connor for his contribution to measure design, and Megan Richardson for her involvement in data collection. Lastly, thank you to the families who took time to participate in both this study and also our prior pilot study using the observed feeding methodology.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cathleen Odar Stough
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher Bolling
    • 2
  • Cynthia Zion
    • 3
  • Lori J. Stark
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Pediatric Associates, PSCCrestview HillsUSA
  3. 3.Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical PsychologyCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA
  4. 4.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Cincinnati College of MedicineCincinnatiUSA

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