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Keywords:

  • eating disordered mothers;
  • female offspring;
  • maternal concern

Abstract

Objective

This study examined the effects of eating disordered mothers on their children.

Method

Women with a past or present eating disorder (ED; N = 41) and non-eating disordered women (NED); N = 153)) and their offspring were followed prospectively.

Results

Female infants of ED mothers sucked significantly faster and were weaned 9 months later than offspring of NED mothers. ED mothers fed their children on a less regular schedule, used food for nonnutritive purposes, and demonstrated significantly higher concern about their daughters' weight than NED mothers from 2 years of age onward. At 5 years, the offspring of ED mothers were reported to demonstrate greater negative affect than the offspring of NED mothers.

Discussion

The female offspring of ED mothers demonstrate a high avidity for feeding early in life which, combined with increased maternal concern over their daughters weight and the use of food for nonnutritive purposes, may pose a serious risk for the later development of an eating disorder. © 1999 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 25: 253–262, 1999.