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  1. R Mark Beattie

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Anxious mothers… anxious babies

Excessive crying is common in infancy and the aetiology and threshold for referral/consultation complex with at its extreme associations with child abuse, early weaning and maternal depression. Petzoldt and colleagues, in a prospective cohort (n=306), report the relationship between maternal anxiety and depressive disorders and excessive infant crying (>3 hours per day on ≥3 days per week for ≥3 weeks). 29/286 (10.1%) reported excessive infant crying. Infants of mothers with anxiety disorders prior to pregnancy were at higher risk (OR 2.54, 95% confidence intervals 1.11–5.78). Risk was increased when additional incident anxiety disorders during pregnancy were considered (OR 3.02, 95% confidence interval 1.25–7.32) and until 16 months post partum (OR 2.87, 95% confidence interval 1.13–7.28). In this cohort maternal depressive disorders were not associated with increased infant crying. The association between maternal anxiety and excessive crying was not explained by socio-demographic and perinatal confounders. This association between anxiety and infant crying is important and has been little studied. The authors recommend consideration of maternal screening during the perinatal period in order to help target appropriate support and potential impact.

In an accompanying editorial Harriet Hiscock discusses the findings and implications and reflects on the complex aetiology of infant crying which include a combination …

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