Research shows that a father's depression may affect his infant's colic.
Excessive crying in infants, otherwise known as colic, has been
linked to symptoms of depression in the mother. Now a study conducted
in the Netherlands links infant colic to depression in the father as
The finding that continuous paternal depression appears associated
with increased risk for colic among infants, "might inspire future
fathers with depressive symptoms to seek treatment," Dr. Mijke P. van
den Berg told Reuters Health.
Van den Berg, of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, and colleagues
assessed symptoms of depression in several thousand sets of parents
when the mothers were 20 weeks pregnant. They found that about 12
percent of the fathers and 11 percent of the mothers showed signs of
For example, they answered positively to questions about feeling
lonely, blue, hopeless, or worthless; having "no interest in things,"
or having "thoughts of ending life," the researchers report in the
Later, when the infants of these parents had reached 2 months of
age, the researchers assessed parental reports of excessive crying.
Overall, 4.1 percent of depressed fathers, compared with 2.2 percent
of non-depressed fathers, had infants who cried for at least 3 hours
daily on 3 or more days in the previous week. Corresponding figures
among depressed and non-depressed mothers were 4.8 and 2.2 percent,
Excessive infant crying remained more prevalent among depressed
fathers and mothers even after allowing for parental age, education
level, and ethnicity; gender and number of children; and paternal
Moreover, adjustments for depressive symptoms among the other parent did not alter these findings.
Traditionally, research and clinical practice focused on the
influence of maternal depression during and after pregnancy, whereas
"this study shows paternal mental well-being should also be taken into
account," van den Berg told Reuters Health.
Additional research is needed to attempt to "disentangle the
possible mechanisms" associated with paternal depression and infant
colic, noted van den Berg.