Maternal Anxiety Disorders Linked To Excessive Infant Crying

Johanna Petzoldt Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Chemnitzer Straße Dresden, Germany MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Johanna Petzoldt
Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Chemnitzer Straße
Dresden, Germany

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: We investigated 286 mother-infant couples from the Maternal Anxiety in Relation to Infant Development (MARI) Study from Dresden (Germany) via standardized interview and questionnaire. We found a robust relation from maternal lifetime anxiety disorders as early as prior to pregnancy to excessive crying in the offspring. Also, the association increased when considering incident anxiety disorders during pregnancy and after delivery.

MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: We found no statistically significant relations from maternal depressive disorders prior to pregnancy to excessive infant crying. This might be due to relatively low rates of depressive disorders in the sample. However, one might speculate, whether this points to different parenting styles in mothers with prior anxiety versus depressive disorders, but these mechanisms remain speculative.

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

Answer: Maternal anxiety disorders before, during and after delivery seem to be important for the development of excessive infant crying. However, many mothers with prior anxiety disorders did not report excessive crying of their offspring. Thus, maternal anxiety disorders are just one piece of the puzzle. Nevertheless, an early identification and monitoring of mothers with prior anxiety disorders might help to identify mother-infant dyads at risk before crying behaviour escalates.

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

Answer: Future research should pay more attention to maternal anxiety disorders and give also respect to maternal diagnostic status prior to pregnancy. Also, parenting styles in mothers with prior anxiety or depressive disorders need further research attention. We could also think of investigations on the effectiveness, safety and feasibility of early interventions prior to or during pregnancy.
Citation:

Maternal anxiety disorders predict excessive infant crying: a prospective longitudinal study
Petzoldt J, Wittchen HU, Wittich J, Einsle F, Höfler M, Martini J.
Arch Dis Child. 2014 Jun 27. pii: archdischild-2013-305562. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2013-305562.