Babies who cry excessively and have problems feeding and sleeping have a greater risk of serious behavioral problems later in life, say scientists.
By comparing data from 22 studies from 1987 to 2006 involving 17,000 children, they found a link between these issues and problems later in life. One in five babies has symptoms that could lead to conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, depression and aggressive behavior.
The research showed that a baby with more than one risk factor was even more likely to develop behavioral problems.
Experts warn parents not to be “overly alarmed” by these results. As we all know, crying in babies is normal, but some cry “excessively” after the age of three months for reasons other than colic. If a baby is not behaving like other babies it is probably worth discussing with a doctor.
Professor Dieter Wolke, from the University of Warwick, told the BBC: “It is about a 100% increase in risk, a doubling of risk of behavioral problems with excessive crying, sleeping and eating problems.”
The study cannot tell if issues as a baby cause behavioral problems later in life: they could be an early symptom of those later problems. But researchers findings certainly back up other recent studies about crying babies.
Professor Wolke said while there were treatments for problem crying, feeding and sleeping in babies, there was no research assessing their impact later in life.
He added: “If you could prevent behavioral problems with an early intervention, in a public health-sense it could be very important.”
Professor Mitch Blair, officer for health promotion at The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, says parents are very good at knowing when something is wrong with their children and that the study “really reinforces the need for attention at an early stage to prevent issues later in childhood”.
The research is published in Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Has anyone experienced this with their own children? Did you have an excessive crier after three months who later turned into a child who “acted out” more than others? If so, how did you/do you handle it?