A recent study1 published in the journal Pediatrics demonstrates that babies are far more likely to develop excessive crying (colic) when their fathers or mothers show symptoms of depression during pregnancy. The researchers monitored the progress of over five thousand infants from birth through their second month of life. During pregnancy, the parents filled out surveys that assessed their symptoms of depression and a variety of other behaviors. After they had their babies, they did a follow-up survey at 2 months that asked about their infants' behaviors. Overall, the researchers found that having a depressed father predicts infant colic more than having a depressed mother. Having a depressed father also predicts infant colic more than any other social, behavioral or demographic variable they examined (such as smoking, alcohol use, ethnicity, educational level or age of the parents, or the birth weight of the baby).

While many studies have demonstrated that mothers with depression are more likely to have babies with colic2,3, this is one of the first studies that demonstrates the importance of fathers in shaping babies lives even before they are born!

1van den Berg, M. P., van der Ende, J., Crijnen, A. A. M., Jaddoe, V. W. V., Moll, H. A., Mackenbach, J. P., Hofman, A., Hengeveld, M. W., Tiemeier, H., & Verhulst, F. C. (2009). Paternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy are related to excessive infant crying. Pediatrics, 124, e96-e103.

2Rautava, P., Helenius, H., & Lehtonen, L. (1993). Psychosocial predisposing factors for infantile colic. British Journal of Medicine, 307, 600-604.

3Zuckerman, B., Bauchner, H., Parker, S., & Cabral, H. (1990). Maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy, and newborn irritability. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 11, 190-194.