New parents tend to worry about a lot of things. Is my baby sleeping enough? Is he getting enough to eat? Is her poop supposed to be that color? And now, thanks to a new study, parents have one more thing to add to their list of concerns: Is my baby’s fussiness a sign of a future mental health problem?
Seriously. Researcher Beth Troutman, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, says a recent study revealed that three to four-week old infants who are overly fussy are more likely to develop mental health problems during childhood. These problems include anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and behavior problems.
This conclusion was based on questionnaires given to mothers of 111 infants between 1999 and 2000. The new mothers reported how often their babies got upset, how intensely they cried and how fussy they were compared to other babies. Years later, when the kids were 8 to 11-years-old, the mothers were asked to assess their children for behavior and mood problems. What they concluded was that infant fussiness was a good predictor of emotional management issues later on in childhood.
In other words, your fussy baby may have trouble regulating his or her emotions and this could ultimately lead to mental health problems.
I have several problems with this study. First, the mothers self-evaluated their infant’s fussiness and their older children’s temperament. What new mom doesn’t think her crying baby is, at least some of the time, overly fussy? And what parent of a pre-teen wouldn’t describe her child as moody? Moody is an art form for a kid this age.
Second, what good could it possibly do to put this idea into the head of a new mother? According to Troutman, early screening of fussy infants could allow for close monitoring of those at risk and perhaps prevent problems from developing down the line.
Or, it could just freak out parents of crying babies and lead them to worry unnecessarily about something that is likely just normal baby behavior.
More from this author: