A crying, colicky baby might not just be hungry or need a diaper changed. Instead, it might be due to a depressed dad, according to new Dutch research.
The recent study of nearly, 4,430 infants showed that only a small percentage — 2.5 percent — of the infants showed signs of excessive crying at 2 months of age. Excessive crying was defined as crying more than 3 hours a day, and more than 3 days a week. Colicky babies usually get better on their own without any type of intervention before 6 months of age.
In the group of infants who cried excessively, 30% of their parents showed signs of depression.
After taking into account the mother’s depressive symptoms and other factors — such as the child’s gestational age, multiple births and family income — researchers in the new study reported a 1.29 times higher risk of excessive infant crying for fathers who reported being depressed during their wife’s pregnancy.
“Our findings indicate that paternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy might be a risk factor for excessive infant crying,” noted Mijke van den Berg, the lead author and a child psychiatrist at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands.
“Although our findings are subject to some limitations and need to be replicated, they emphasize the importance of taking paternal factors into account when studying early infant behavior such as excessive crying.” A father’s depression is important to take into account even during the mother’s pregnancy.
The researchers could not pinpoint why a father’s depression might be linked to a baby’s colic behavior, but suggested it might be related to a lack of quality interactions between the baby and their father, genetics, and stress from work, family or financial issues.
The report is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.