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Pediatrics. 2009 Jul;124(1):e96-103. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-3100.

Paternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy are related to excessive infant crying.

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  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Erasmus Medical Center, Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, Netherlands.



Excessive infant crying, or infantile colic, is a common and often stress-inducing problem for parents that can ultimately result in child abuse. From previous research it is known that maternal depression is related to excessive crying, but so far little is known about the influence of paternal depression.


In a prospective, population-based study, we obtained information on both maternal and paternal depressive symptoms at 20 weeks of pregnancy by using the Brief Symptom Inventory. Parental depressive symptoms were related to excessive crying in 4426 two-month-old infants. The definition of excessive crying was based on the widely used Wessel's criteria (ie, crying >3 hours for >3 days in the past week).


After adjustment for depressive symptoms of the mother and relevant confounders, we found a 1.29 (95% confidence interval: 1.09-1.52) higher risk of excessive infant crying per SD of paternal depressive symptoms.


Our findings indicate that paternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy might be a risk factor for excessive infant crying. This finding could be related to genetic transmission, interaction of a father with lasting depressive symptoms with the infant, or related indirectly through contextual stressors such as marital, familial, or economic distress.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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