Fussy Baby = Future Mental Health Problems?

Julie Ryan Evans

crying babyIf I had a dollar for every time someone looked at my sweet, calm baby and said, "Oh watch out, those good babies are trouble later," I wouldn't be worried about paying for her college tuition.

Turns out all those doom predictors may be (thankfully) wrong.

A new study says it's actually the fussy babies that may exhibit more behavior problems later in life.

Good news for those with "good" babies, but not so much for those with a less-than-pleasant temperament.

"It turns out, you can predict very well from infant fussiness to later problems," said study researcher Beth Troutman, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa.

The study showed that babies who were fussier during the first month of life had higher rates of anxiety, ADHD, and other mood and behavior problems later in life. It's thought that the inability to properly regulate emotions may be detectable early in life.

But don't panic if your baby is in the other room crying, it doesn't mean he's in for a life of detention and drugs to treat disorders.

Remember it's just one study, and there are plenty of reasons babies are fussy that may have nothing to do with behavior regulation -- like gas or reflux. And researchers also said the way a mother responds to her child has a large impact on his mental health.

Also, there will probably be a contrary study next week saying fussy babies are more likely to become geniuses ... or something like that. There always is, so it's important to keep everything in perspective.

But it is interesting, and something to think about if you have an exceptionally fussy baby, so you can watch for signs of behavior issues earlier and get help as soon as possible if necessary.

I'm curious as to what your personal experiences have been. If you had a fussy baby, have you seen more challenging behavior as that child has grown? Or the opposite?


Image via bbaunach/Flickr

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