General News — 24 February 2016

Mothers-to-be who go through bouts of anxiety and/or depression may be more likely to have fussy babies, according to recent findings published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

“Fussy eating can really be a problem for the families,” said lead author Lisanne de Barse, of Erasmus MC-University Medical Center in Rotterdam, via Fox News. “Dinners can become very difficult. There is also some evidence that when a child continues to be a fussy eater there can continue to be additional health problems.”

During the study, researchers examined data from the Generation R study, which looked at pregnant women who lived in Rotterdam who delivered their child between April 2002 and January 2006. Parents involved in the study were required to answer questionnaires regarding both anxiety and depression during their pregnancy and again when their children were three years old, including almost 5,000 mother and child pairs, as well as 5,000 fathers. Then, at age three and four, children were required to report their children’s eating behaviors.

Findings showed that close to 30 percent of all children were classified as fussy eaters by age 3. Furthermore, after taking into account factors such as parental age and education level, they found each additional point that a pregnant mother scored on the anxiety scale was liked to an increase in how fussy the child would be. Furthermore, if the anxiety persisted through the child’s preschool years, they were also mroe likely to be selective eaters, as well.

“Sensitivity analyses showed that not only children of mothers with clinically significant anxiety had elevated food fussiness scores, but children of mothers with anxiety scores above average also had higher food fussiness scores than children of mothers with average or below average anxiety scores,” the study authors wrote.

The study results also revealed that fathers anxiety or depression influenced their child’s fussy eating. However, it wasn’t that they were worried about the mother or the pregnancy. More so, it was their own depression and/or anxiety at the beginning of the study and during the follow-up that influenced the child’s behavior.

While the study does  not demonstrate a causal relationship between parental anxiety and depression regarding children’s eating habits, it “strongly suggests that the direction of the associations with mothers’ antenatal symptoms is from mother to child.” Researchers suggest that parents should try to seek help in managing their own  problems so as not to influence any behaviors in their children later on.

This article first appeared on ‘Science World Report’ on 23 February 2016.



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