Does Mom’s Anxiety During Pregnancy Make Her Child A Fussy Eater? Interview with:

Lisanne de Barse Department of Epidemiology Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam

Dr. Lisanne De Barse

Lisanne de Barse PhD
Department of Epidemiology
Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. de Barse: Fussy (or “picky”) eating behaviour, which is characterised by consistent rejection of particular foods, is common in childhood and a source of concern for parents. It is not well understood what affects fussy eating. It is, however, well known that internalizing psychiatric problems of parents (i.e. anxiety and depression) have an impact on children’s health and development. Studies have also shown that mothers’ internalizing problems during the child’s preschool period was linked to child fussy eating. It was not clear whether the child’s eating problems causes stress and psychiatric symptoms in mothers or whether mothers’ symptoms predict child eating behaviour. Nor was it known what potential impact the dads’ state of mind have. The purpose of this study was to examine whether mothers’ and fathers’ internalizing problems during pregnancy and during the child’s life predicts child fussy eating.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?

Dr. de Barse: Our main findings indicate that mothers’ anxiety and depressive symptoms during pregnancy could have an influence on children’s fussy eating. This was irrespective of mothers’ internalizing symptoms at the child’s preschool period. We also found indications that fathers’ anxiety and depressive symptoms might influence children’s fussy eating behaviour. This was studied in Generation R, a study that has been tracking the health and wellbeing of children from conception onwards, conducted by the Erasmus Medical Centre, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. de Barse: Clinicians should be aware that not only severe anxiety or depression, but also milder forms of internalising problems can affect child eating behaviour. When parents experience anxiety or depressive symptoms, they should report this to their health practitioner, because it could have an impact on themselves, but also on their child.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. de Barse: Future research should replicate our findings. Also, it is important that future research provides more insight into other possible factors for fussy eating. For instance, we are currently investigating whether breastfeeding duration and the timing of complementary feeding could affect child fussy eating.


Archives of Disease in Childhood February 2016:

Are parents’ anxiety and depression related to child fussy eating

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Lisanne de Barse PhD (2016). Does Mom’s Anxiety During Pregnancy Make Her Child A Fussy Eater?

Last Updated on February 23, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD