Analysis of mothers’ perceptions affecting eating habits of young children with/without disabilities: A machine learning method
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The purpose of this study was to confirm the mothers perceptions of the influence of eating habits of young children with/without disabilities. Through a survey study, the intersection between factors affecting understanding of baby food, practice of weaning food, and children's current eating habits was analyzed using a machine learning-based decision tree approach. Results indicate that, first, there was a significant difference in understanding of weaning foods between mothers of children with and without disabilities. The late timing of weaning foods was associated with an unbalanced diet and overeating. Second, there was a significant difference in the breastfeeding pattern before transitioning to baby foods in mothers of disabled infants and non-disabled infants. Before weaning, mothers of infants with disabilities were more likely to feed formula or a mixture of milk and formula. Third, the mother's job status during the weaning period showed a significant intersection with the current number of snacks, the preparation of weaning food, and the types of preferred snacks of the disabled infants. Discussion includes the need for diet education and related supports systematically for mothers of infants/children with disabilities.