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Preventive Medicine

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Early childhood obesity is a persistent health concern with more frequent and significant impact on low-income families. Maternal weight factors impact offspring weight status, but evidence on whether breastfeeding protects against this impact is mixed. This analysis examined a model to predict early childhood obesity risk, simultaneously accounting for maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), gestational weight gain, and breastfeeding. The team analyzed 27,016 unique maternal-child dyadic records collected via the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Wisconsin Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) between 2009 and 2011. Generalized Linear Modeling, specifically logistic regression, was used to predict a child's risk of obesity given the mother's pre-pregnancy BMI, gestational weight gain, and duration of breastfeeding. For each 1 kg/m2 increase in pre-pregnancy BMI, there was a 4.5% increase in risk of obesity compared to children with mothers of normal BMI. Children whose mothers had excessive gestational weight gain were 50% more likely to have obesity compared to those whose mothers had ideal weight gain. For each week of additional breastfeeding, there was a 1.9% increased risk of obesity. The risk models did not differ by race. In this model, accounting for pre-pregnancy weight, gestational weight gain, and breastfeeding among a diverse, low-income sample, women with pre-pregnancy overweight and obesity or who had excessive gestational weight gain had the highest risk of early childhood obesity. While breastfeeding is healthy for many reasons, providers should focus on maternal weight-related behaviors when counseling mothers about how to avoid risk of early childhood obesity.


Accepted version. Preventive Medicine, Vol. 118, (January 2019): 210-215. DOI. © 2019 Elsevier. Used with permission.

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