Shared Reading and Television Across the Perinatal Period in Low-SES Households

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Abstract

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that shared reading commence as soon as possible after birth and screen-based media be discouraged for those less than 18 months old. Early routines can predict long-term use and health outcomes. This longitudinal study involved low-socioeconomic status mothers (n = 282) enrolled in home visiting. Surveys were administered prenatally and at 2 months old regarding shared reading and infant television viewing, and health literacy was screened prenatally. Planned age to initiate reading decreased from 2.8 to 1.8 months old, 80% reading by 2 months old, averaging 1 to 3 days per week, with “too busy” being the major barrier. Planned age for infant TV decreased from 13.2 to 4.3 months old, 68% viewing by 2 months old and more than half daily. TV was observed in 70% of infant sleep environments. Health literacy was correlated with perceived developmental benefits of shared reading (positively) and TV viewing (negatively), 43% of mothers scoring at risk for inadequate levels. A majority cited the prenatal period as opportune to discuss reading and TV.

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