Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Health Services


Scott McDoniel


Childhood overweight and obesity are public health concerns that have negative health consequences and affect many children. Efforts are needed to identify children who are at a higher risk of developing overweight and obesity so that early detection and treatment may be offered. The intent of this study was to investigate the differences in the effects of postpartum depression on infant feeding practices and infant weight gain between Hispanic and African American women. Data were obtained from Infant Feeding Practices Study 11, a longitudinal study involving mothers in their third trimester through infants first year of life. The overall test of model coefficient of complete cases (N = 192, missing = 443) was not statistically significant (x² = 4.842, df =2, p = 0.089). The result of the overall test after multiple imputation (n = 289) remained insignificant (on average x² = 4.031, df = 2, p = 0.133). However, results indicated a significant association between excessive infant weight gain and feeding practices (breast feeding vs. formula feeding; r = 0.207, p = 0.01), supporting previous research on the protective effect of breast feeding on excess infant weight gain. Positive social change implications include an understanding of how maternal and infant characteristics may identify early symptoms of maternal depression, through increased awareness and reduced incidents of childhood obesity and maternal postpartum depression.