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Search Health Information    Paternal Blues May Affect Baby's Mood
 Men's Health Feature Story

Paternal Blues May Affect Baby's Mood
Mom's state of mind isn't only factor that can lead to crying baby

Paternal Blues May Affect Baby's Mood(HealthDay News) -- Although maternal depression has been linked to excessive crying in babies, new research suggests that a dad's mood plays a significant role in baby's well-being, too.

The study, published in Pediatrics, found that fathers who had depressive symptoms were twice as likely to have a baby who cried excessively.

"Up to now, almost all attention went to the prenatal effects of maternal depression on child development, leading to the development of detection and treatment programs that focused on mental well-being of mothers," the study's lead author, Dr. Mijke P. van den Berg, a psychiatrist at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, told HealthDay.

"This study showed the importance of taking paternal factors and well-being during pregnancy into account, next to maternal," she said. "Fathers do matter, so take care for the mental well-being of fathers during pregnancy."

Symptoms of depression include feeling sad or empty, a loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, feeling tired all the time, feeling worthless, trouble concentrating, irritability and recurrent thoughts of suicide, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In men, however, depression isn't always identifiable by its more common symptoms, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. Men may be more likely to be frustrated and angry when depressed, which can lead to violence. Men also tend to turn to alcohol or drugs when depressed to try to mask the symptoms, the institute reports. Some men may choose to work compulsively if they're depressed, it adds, while others might be more likely to engage in reckless or impulsive behavior.

As many as 6 million American men may be depressed each year, according to the institute.

In her study, van den Berg and her colleagues asked parents of 4,426 babies who were 2 months old about depressive symptoms. They also asked the parents to rate their baby's level of crying. Crying was considered excessive if it occurred for more than three hours a day for more than three days a week.

Only a small percentage -- 2.5 percent -- of babies were labeled excessive criers. But, depression was strongly linked to crying babies. The researchers found a 30 percent higher risk of depression, both maternal and paternal, in parents who had excessively crying offspring.

Fathers who had depression symptoms were twice as likely to have an infant who cried excessively than were happier dads, the researchers found.

"This study demonstrates in a paradoxical way the importance of fathers, in that fathers' measurable depression during pregnancy is a risk factor for excessive infant crying at 2 months of age," Dr. Jon Shaw, a professor and chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller of School of Medicine, told HealthDay.

"This seems to be related perhaps to the enduring effects of fathers' depression on the family ambience, the parental relationship, child parenting and, perhaps as the authors suggest, there may be a genetic factor involved," Shaw noted.

On the Web

To learn more about men and depression, visit the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

SOURCES: Mijke P. van den Berg, M.D., Ph.D., departments of psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Jon Shaw, M.D., professor and chief, child and adolescent psychiatry, University of Miami Miller of School of Medicine, Miami; July 2009, Pediatrics; May 19, 2010, Journal of the American Medical Association; U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

Author: Serena Gordon

Publication Date: July 31, 2010


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