Breastfeeding History, Preschool Children’s Sleep, and Obesity

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Child and Family Studies


© 2020 Taylor & Francis. Breastfeeding and sleep are both considered medically and physiologically protective factors for child health. Most existing research studied their impact on child health outcomes, respectively. Few studies examined the two factors collectively to explore any potential associations among a history of breastfeeding and quantity of sleep in children and child health. This study sought to uncover the association among breastfeeding history, the amount of sleep, and obesity in preschool-aged children to provide additional insights into their protective physical and psychological effects on health outcomes. As part of a larger study examining obesity in preschool children, the current investigation explored the association among obesity, a history of breastfeeding, and the total number of hours of preschool children’s sleep, as reported by parents. Actual heights and weights were collected on a total of 1,693 children 3–5 years of age enrolled in licensed child care facilities in Mississippi. Descriptive analyses of the demographic and parent survey variables were conducted to explore the status related to breastfeeding in Mississippi. To understand the relationships between breastfeeding and covariates, bivariate analyses such as chi-square independent tests, Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel chi-square tests, and Fisher’s exact tests were performed. Obesity was negatively correlated to breastfeeding, and Caucasian mothers were significantly more likely to breastfeed than African American mothers. Obesity was also negatively correlated to the amount of sleep, and African American children reportedly slept significantly less than Caucasian children. The average amount of time of sleep reported for children with a history of being breastfed was significantly higher than for those who were not breastfed, suggesting that breastfeeding could have a significant positive association with preschool children’s sleep, serving as an additional protective factor obesity. The interaction between breastfeeding and subsequent sleep as children mature is an important area for future research to fully explore their foundational impact in family health practices that combat obesity in children and promote other subsequent health outcomes.

Publication Title

Comprehensive Child and Adolescent Nursing

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