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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 17:30 EDT

Cranky Babies = Difficult Children?

April 22, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — A new study shows babies who have problems with crying, sleeping, and feeding are much more likely to have significant behavioral problems when they get older.

About 20 percent of all infants experience excessive crying, sleeping difficulties and/or feeding problems, which are known as “regulatory problems.” Researchers wanted to know if there was any link between these problems in early infancy and childhood behavior problems down the road.

The investigators carried out an analysis of 22 studies conducted from 1987-2006 that looked at this association. These studies include more than 16,000 children.

Childhood behavioral problems were classified into four categories: internalizing (anxiety, depression and withdrawal), externalizing (aggressive or destructive behavior), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and general behavioral problems.

Results showed infants with regulatory problems were more likely to have behavioral problems as children. The most common outcomes for kids who had regulatory problems as infants were externalizing problems and ADHD. The more types of regulatory problems a baby had, the more likely he was to have behavioral problems as a child.

“Regulatory problems in infancy can increase the likelihood of developing behavior problems in childhood.  Our findings highlight the need for prospective follow-up studies of regulatory disturbed infants and require reliable assessments of crying, sleeping, or feeding problems,” authors of the study concluded. “The evidence from this systematic review suggests that those with persisting regulatory problems in families with other problems may require early interventions to minimize or prevent the long-term consequences of infant regulatory problems.”

SOURCE: Archives of Disease in Childhood, April 20, 2011