Skip to main content Accessibility help

The role of infant feeding practices in the explanation for ethnic differences in infant growth: the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study

  • Marieke L. A. de Hoog (a1) (a2), Manon van Eijsden (a2), Karien Stronks (a1), Reinoud J. B. J. Gemke (a3) and Tanja G. M. Vrijkotte (a1)...


Rapid early growth in infants may influence overweight and CVD in later life. Both rapid growth and these disease outcomes disproportionately affect some ethnic minorities. We determined ethnic differences in growth rate (Δ standard deviation scores, ΔSDS) during the first 6 months of life and assessed the explanatory role of infant feeding. Data were derived from a multiethnic cohort for the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study (The Netherlands). Growth data (weight and length) of 2998 term-born singleton infants with no fetal growth restriction were available for five ethnic populations: Dutch (n 1619), African descent (n 174), Turkish (n 167), Moroccan (n 232) and other non-Dutch (n 806). ΔSDS for weight, length and weight-for-length between 4 weeks and 6 months were defined using internal references. Infant feeding pattern (breast-feeding duration, introduction of formula feeding and complementary feeding) in relation to ethnic differences in growth rate was examined by multivariate linear regression. Results showed that the growth rate was higher in almost all ethnic minorities, with β between 0·07 and 0·41 for ΔSDS weight and between 0·12 and 0·42 for ΔSDS length, compared with ethnic Dutch infants. ΔSDS weight-for-length was similar across groups, except for Moroccan infants (β 0·25, P < 0·05) after correction for confounders. In general, exclusive breast-feeding for 4 months was associated with slower growth for all three growth measures. Feeding factors explained, to a small degree, the higher weight and length gain in African descent infants, but not the higher ΔSDS weight-for-length in the Moroccan population. More research is needed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of the high infant growth rate in Turkish and Moroccan infants.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The role of infant feeding practices in the explanation for ethnic differences in infant growth: the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The role of infant feeding practices in the explanation for ethnic differences in infant growth: the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The role of infant feeding practices in the explanation for ethnic differences in infant growth: the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study
      Available formats


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: M. L. A. de Hoog, fax +31 20 697 2316, email


Hide All
1 Ogden, CL, Carroll, MD, Curtin, LR, et al. (2010) Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. JAMA 303, 242249.
2 Allcock, DM, Gardner, MJ & Sowers, JR (2009) Relation between childhood obesity and adult cardiovascular risk. Int J Pediatr Endocrinol 2009, 108187.
3 Corvalan, C, Uauy, R, Stein, AD, et al. (2009) Effect of growth on cardiometabolic status at 4 y of age. Am J Clin Nutr 90, 547555.
4 Freedman, DS, Dietz, WH, Srinivasan, SR, et al. (1999) The relation of overweight to cardiovascular risk factors among children and adolescents: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Pediatrics 103, 11751182.
5 Freedman, DS, Khan, LK, Dietz, WH, et al. (2001) Relationship of childhood obesity to coronary heart disease risk factors in adulthood: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Pediatrics 108, 712718.
6 I'Allemand, D, Wiegand, S, Reinehr, T, et al. (2008) Cardiovascular risk in 26,008 European overweight children as established by a multicenter database. Obesity (Silver Spring) 16, 16721679.
7 Fredriks, AM, Buren van, S, Sing, RA, et al. (2005) Alarming prevalences of overweight and obesity for children of Turkish, Moroccan and Dutch origin in The Netherlands according to international standards. Acta Paediatr 94, 496498.
8 Kolsgaard, ML, Andersen, LF, Tonstad, S, et al. (2008) Ethnic differences in metabolic syndrome among overweight and obese children and adolescents: the Oslo Adiposity Intervention Study. Acta Paediatr 97, 15571563.
9 Saxena, S, Ambler, G, Cole, TJ, et al. (2004) Ethnic group differences in overweight and obese children and young people in England: cross sectional survey. Arch Dis Child 89, 3036.
10 Lynch, WC, Heil, DP, Wagner, E, et al. (2007) Ethnic differences in BMI, weight concerns, and eating behaviors: comparison of Native American, White, and Hispanic adolescents. Body Image 4, 179190.
11 Singh, GK, Kogan, MD, Van Dyck, PC, et al. (2008) Racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and behavioral determinants of childhood and adolescent obesity in the United States: analyzing independent and joint associations. Ann Epidemiol 18, 682695.
12 Whitaker, RC & Orzol, SM (2006) Obesity among US urban preschool children: relationships to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 160, 578584.
13 Schokker, DF, Visscher, TL, Nooyens, AC, et al. (2007) Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the Netherlands. Obes Rev 8, 101108.
14 Barker, DJ, Winter, PD, Osmond, C, et al. (1989) Weight in infancy and death from ischaemic heart disease. Lancet ii, 577580.
15 Barker, DJ (2003) The developmental origins of adult disease. Eur J Epidemiol 18, 733736.
16 Gluckman, PD, Hanson, MA, Cooper, C, et al. (2008) Effect of in utero and early-life conditions on adult health and disease. N Engl J Med 359, 6173.
17 Hof, MHP, van Dijk AE, van Eijsden, et al. (2011) Comparison of growth between native and immigrant infants between 0–3 years from the Dutch ABCD cohort. Ann Hum Biol (In the Press).
18 Dennison, BA, Edmunds, LS, Stratton, HH, et al. (2006) Rapid infant weight gain predicts childhood overweight. Obesity (Silver Spring) 14, 491499.
19 Gillman, MW, Rifas-Shiman, SL, Camargo, CA Jr, et al. (2001) Risk of overweight among adolescents who were breastfed as infants. JAMA 285, 24612467.
20 Gillman, MW, Rifas-Shiman, SL, Berkey, CS, et al. (2006) Breast-feeding and overweight in adolescence: within-family analysis [corrected]. Epidemiology 17, 112114.
21 Gunnarsdottir, I, Schack-Nielsen, L, Michaelsen, KF, et al. (2010) Infant weight gain, duration of exclusive breast-feeding and childhood BMI – two similar follow-up cohorts. Public Health Nutr 13, 201207.
22 Kramer, MS, Guo, T, Platt, RW, et al. (2004) Feeding effects on growth during infancy. J Pediatr 145, 600605.
23 Griffiths, LJ, Smeeth, L, Hawkins, SS, et al. (2009) Effects of infant feeding practice on weight gain from birth to 3 years. Arch Dis Child 94, 577582.
24 Kramer, MS (1981) Do breast-feeding and delayed introduction of solid foods protect against subsequent obesity? J Pediatr 98, 883887.
25 Kramer, MS (2010) Breastfeeding, complementary (solid) foods, and long-term risk of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 91, 500501.
26 Schack-Nielsen, L, Sorensen, TI, Mortensen, EL, et al. (2010) Late introduction of complementary feeding, rather than duration of breastfeeding, may protect against adult overweight. Am J Clin Nutr 91, 619627.
27 Wilson, AC, Forsyth, JS, Greene, SA, et al. (1998) Relation of infant diet to childhood health: seven year follow up of cohort of children in Dundee infant feeding study. BMJ 316, 2125.
28 Bulk-Bunschoten, AM, Pasker-de Jong, PC, van Wouwe, JP, et al. (2008) Ethnic variation in infant-feeding practices in the Netherlands and weight gain at 4 months. J Hum Lact 24, 4249.
29 Rossem van, L, Vogel, I, Steegers, E, et al. (2009) Breastfeeding patterns among ethic minorities: the generation R study. J Epidemiol Community Health 64, 10801085.
30 Bentley, ME, Dee, DL & Jensen, JL (2003) Breastfeeding among low income, African-American women: power, beliefs and decision making. J Nutr 133, 305S309S.
31 Bronner, YL, Gross, SM, Caulfield, L, et al. (1999) Early introduction of solid foods among urban African-American participants in WIC. J Am Diet Assoc 99, 457461.
32 Forste, R, Weiss, J & Lippincott, E (2001) The decision to breastfeed in the United States: does race matter? Pediatrics 108, 291296.
33 Benn, RT (1971) Some mathematical properties of weight-for-height indices used as measures of adiposity. Br J Prev Soc Med 25, 4250.
34 Ong, KK, Emmett, PM, Noble, S, et al. (2006) Dietary energy intake at the age of 4 months predicts postnatal weight gain and childhood body mass index. Pediatrics 117, e503e508.
35 van Eijsden, M, Vrijkotte, TG, Gemke, RJ, et al. (2010) Cohort profile: The Amsterdam Born Children and their Development (ABCD) Study. Int J Epidemiol (Epublication ahead of print version 2 September 2010).
36 Stronks, K, Kulu-Glasgow, I & Agyemang, C (2009) The utility of ‘country of birth’ for the classification of ethnic groups in health research: the Dutch experience. Ethn Health 14, 114.
37 Rebhan, B, Kohlhuber, M, Schwegler, U, et al. (2009) Infant feeding practices and associated factors through the first 9 months of life in Bavaria, Germany. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 49, 467473.
38 Gardner, DS, Hosking, J, Metcalf, BS, et al. (2009) Contribution of early weight gain to childhood overweight and metabolic health: a longitudinal study (EarlyBird 36). Pediatrics 123, e67e73.
39 Monteiro, PO & Victora, CG (2005) Rapid growth in infancy and childhood and obesity in later life – a systematic review. Obes Rev 6, 143154.
40 Ay, L, Van Houten, VA, Steegers, EA, et al. (2009) Fetal and postnatal growth and body composition at 6 months of age. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 94, 20232030.
41 Botton, J, Heude, B, Maccario, J, et al. (2008) Postnatal weight and height growth velocities at different ages between birth and 5 y and body composition in adolescent boys and girls. Am J Clin Nutr 87, 17601768.
42 Chivers, P, Hands, B, Parker, H, et al. (2010) Body mass index, adiposity rebound and early feeding in a longitudinal cohort (Raine Study). Int J Obes (Lond) 34, 11691176.
43 Coleman, BL, Gutmanis, I, Larsen, LL, et al. (2009) Introduction of solid foods: do mothers follow recommendations? Can J Diet Pract Res 70, 135140.
44 Eijsden van, M, Berkenpas, ME & Wal van der, MF (2009) Breastfeeding in a multiethnic population: the role of the (prospective) father and grandmother. Tijdschrift voor gezondheidswetenschappen (J Health Sci) 87, 100108.
45 Satcher, DS (2001) DHHS blueprint for action on breastfeeding. Public Health Rep 116, 7273.
46 Larsen, T, Greisen, G & Petersen, S (1997) Intrauterine growth correlation to postnatal growth influence of risk factors and complications in pregnancy. Early Hum Dev 47, 157165.
47 Leunissen, RW (2009) Timing and tempo of first-year rapid growth in relation to cardiovascular and metabolic risk profile in early adulthood. JAMA 301, 22342242.
48 Elks, CE, Loos, RJ, Sharp, SJ, et al. (2010) Genetic markers of adult obesity risk are associated with greater early infancy weight gain and growth. PLoS Med 7, e1000284.
49 Graitcer, PL & Gentry, EM (1981) Measuring children: one reference for all. Lancet ii, 297299.
50 Habicht, JP, Martorell, R, Yarbrough, C, et al. (1974) Height and weight standards for preschool children. How relevant are ethnic differences in growth potential? Lancet i, 611614.
51 Talma, H, Schonbeck, Y, Bakker, B, et al. (2010) Groeidiagrammen 2010: Handleiding bij het meten en wegen van kinderen en het invullen van groeidiagrammen (Growth Charts 2010: Guide to Measuring and Weighing Children and the Filling of Growth Charts). Leiden, The Netherlands: TNO kwaliteit van leven.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed