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Persistence of infant crying, sleeping and feeding problems: need for prevention
  1. Dieter Wolke
  1. Department of Psychology and Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Dieter Wolke, Department of Psychology and Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; D.Wolke{at}

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Excessive crying, difficulties in feeding such as food refusal and difficulties with falling asleep or maintaining sleep after 4–6 months of age are labelled infant regulatory problems (RPs). If RPs occur together (having more than one RP), they have been found to be associated with behaviour and emotional problems in childhood and even in adulthood.1 There is emerging evidence that alterations in brain activation may mediate the effects of infant RPs on emotional outcomes.2 RPs occur frequently with up to 25% of infants experiencing single RPs and 4%–10% multiple RPs. Concern about their infant’s health and the distress caused to parents make RPs one of the most frequent reason for parents to seek help from child health professionals in the first year of life. Considering the number of infants and parents affected every year worldwide, it is surprising that there are so few prospective studies that have investigated factors related to infant RPs and their consequences.

The study by Olsen et al 3 investigated whether problems in regulating crying, sleeping or feeding in early infancy persist across the first year of life. Furthermore, they studied whether RPs and their persistence may be explained by infant factors such as sex, preterm birth or parenting factors such as maternal mental health and parent-child relationship problems. The study was conducted in a community setting in Denmark and used data recorded in standard forms by child health nurses who …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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