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Using grounded theory methodology to conceptualize the mother-infant communication dynamic: potential application to compliance with infant feeding recommendations


Using grounded theory methodology to conceptualize the mother-infant communication dynamic: potential application to compliance with infant feeding recommendations



Maternal and Child Nutrition 11(4): 749-760



ISSN/ISBN: 1740-8695

PMID: 23795678

DOI: 10.1111/mcn.12056

Excessive, rapid weight gain in early infancy has been linked to risk of later overweight and obesity. Inappropriate infant feeding practices associated with this rapid weight gain are currently of great interest. Understanding the origin of these practices may increase the effectiveness of interventions. Low-income populations in the Southeastern United States are at increased risk for development of inappropriate infant feeding practices, secondary to the relatively low rates of breastfeeding reported from this region. The objective was to use grounded theory methodology (GTM) to explore interactions between mothers and infants that may influence development of feeding practices, and to do so among low-income, primiparous, Southeastern United States mothers. Analysis of 15 in-depth phone interviews resulted in development of a theoretical model in which Mother-Infant Communication Dynamic emerged as the central concept. The central concept suggests a communication pattern developed over the first year of life, based on a positive feedback loop, which is harmonious and results in the maternal perception of mother and infant now speaking the same language. Importantly, though harmonious, this dynamic may result from inaccurate maternal interpretation of infant cues and behaviours, subsequently leading to inappropriate infant feeding practices. Future research should test this theoretical model using direct observation of mother-infant communication, to increase the understanding of maternal interpretation of infant cues. Subsequently, interventions targeting accurate maternal interpretation of and response to infant cues, and impact on rate of infant weight gain could be tested. If effective, health care providers could potentially use these concepts to attenuate excess rapid infant weight gain.

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Accession: 056814901

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