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Anxious mothers... anxious babies?
  1. Harriet Hiscock1,2,3
  1. 1Community Child Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Harriet Hiscock, Community Child Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria 3052, Australia; harriet.hiscock{at}

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A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work. – John Lubbock (1834–1913)

Many mothers of infants experience days of worry and weeks of work—an experience made so much harder by the presence of a crying infant. Up to 20% of mothers in developed countries report excessive crying in their infants.1 Although often thought of as a benign, self-limiting condition, infant crying—in particular, crying that lasts more than 3 h per day, for more than 3 days per week and for more than 3 weeks in a row—is associated with child abuse, early weaning and maternal depression.1

The cause(s) of excessive infant crying remains elusive. There is no doubt, however, that a mother's mood and caregiving style can impact directly on an infant's behaviour and vice versa. It is well recognised that mothers who experience postnatal depression may withdraw from their infant who, in turn, may withdraw from their mother. It is also well recognised that mothers of infants with excessive crying are more likely to report high levels of depression symptoms than mothers of infants without such crying. However, the role of maternal anxiety in infant crying has not been well researched. The article by Petzoldt et al …

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