Mothers of fussy babies having greater depressive symptoms

Mothers of fussy babies having greater depressive symptoms

PanARMENIAN.Net - It’s no secret that fussy newborns can be especially challenging for parents already facing physical and mental exhaustion from caring for a new baby.

But now science backs up the impact on parents: The less soothable the infant, the more distressed the mother, Michigan Medicine reports.

Mothers of highly irritable infants experience greater depressive symptoms, according to new University of Michigan-led research. The nationally representative study, which included data from more than 8,200 children and their parents, appears in Academic Pediatrics.

The study is also believed to be the first to explore whether the degree of a baby’s prematurity in combination with infant fussiness may influence the severity of maternal depressive symptoms.

Researchers found that mothers of very preterm, fussy infants (born at 24-31 weeks) had about twice the odds of experiencing mild depressive symptoms compared to moms of very preterm infants without fussiness.

However, mothers of fussy babies born moderate-late preterm (32-36 weeks gestation) as well as mothers of full-term infants were about twice as likely to report moderate to severe depressive symptoms as moms of less irritable babies born at the same gestational age.

“We found that maternal depression risk varied by gestational age and infant fussiness,” says senior author Prachi Shah, M.D., a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and an associate research scientist at U-M’s Center for Human Growth and Development. “Mothers of fussy infants born late preterm and full term are more likely to experience more severe levels of maternal depression, than mothers of fussy infants who were born more preterm.”

“These findings reinforce that all mothers caring for babies with more difficult temperaments may need extra help managing the emotional toll,” she adds. “Early screening for infant fussiness may help identify mothers with depressive symptoms in need of support, but may be especially important for mothers of infants born mildly preterm, in whom the symptoms of depression are more severe.”

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