Dads' Depression Linked to Later Infant Crying

Paternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy may increase risk of excessive crying at 2 months

TUESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Symptoms of depression in soon-to-be fathers during pregnancy may be a risk factor for excessive infant crying, according to research published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Mijke P. van den Berg, M.D., of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed data from 4,426 infants and their parents. Maternal and paternal depressive symptoms were measured at 20 weeks of pregnancy. Excessive crying was defined as crying for more than three hours on more than three days in the previous week.

The researchers found that paternal depression scores were associated with excessive crying of the infants when they were 2 months old, even after adjustment for the mother's depressive symptoms (odds ratio per standard deviation of paternal depressive symptoms, 1.29).

"It is likely that a substantial part of the fathers who were depressed during pregnancy were depressed after childbirth as well. In this respect, one could imagine that fathers with chronic depressive symptoms are less sensitive to their children, make less effort to comfort their children, and could also react with irritability or aggression toward their children," the authors conclude. "On the other hand, it is plausible that excessive infant crying will put fathers with depressive symptoms during pregnancy at a higher risk to remain or become more depressed after childbirth because of the higher demands of caring for a child who cannot be comforted."

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