Background: In utero stressors may work to program the metabolism of the developing fetus in such a way that predisposes him/her to obesity later on. Studies have shown that breastfeeding is protective against childhood obesity and suggest that after six months the weight gain in breastfed babies slows opposed to formula fed babies who continue with rapid weight gain. This slowing of weight gain has been shown to be protective against adiposity and later life weight gain.

Purpose: This study looks to further explore these findings in a low income Latino population adding mother’s feelings about the pregnancy and the impact of prenatal caffeine intake as a mediator to increase in utero stress hormones.

Method:A retrospective analysis of data from California’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program’s Integrated Statewide Information System (ISIS) database, and the Automated Fital Statistics System (AVSS) was conducted with 487 pregnant women and their children participating in the Orange County WIC Program from birth through 36 months of age.

Results: Using Hierarchal Linear Modeling, weight to length ratios were evaluated until 24 months for breastfeeding practices. The group that breastfed exclusively more than 6 months were the most lean at 12 and 24 months. The protective effects of breastfeeding existed regardless of how women felt about their pregnancy. Maternal caffeine intake was shown to be a significant contributor to the difference in weight in the children at 12 and 24 months of age.

Significance to Global Health: Childhood obesity in the United States is a disease disproportionately seen in poorer individuals of certain ethnic minority groups. This health disparity falls under the purview of global health especially because in the current study the group from whom the data is gathered are predominantly immigrants or first generation descendants of immigrants from Mexico.


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Susanne Montgomery

Second Advisor

Juan Belliard

Third Advisor

Dora Barilla

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Subject - Local

Obesity -- etiology; Pregnancy; Maternal-Fetal Exchange -- physiology; Fetal Development; Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects; Nutrition Processes; Breast Feeding -- physiology; Health Behavior; Socioeconomic Factors; Hispanic Americans; Cross-Cultural Studies.



Page Count

x; 105

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives