Background: The etiology of excessive infant crying is largely unknown. We hypothesize that excessive infant crying may have an early nutritional origin during fetal development.
Aims: This study is the first to explore whether (1) maternal vitamin B-12 and folate status during pregnancy are associated with excessive infant crying, and (2) whether and how maternal psychological well-being during pregnancy affects these associations.
Study Design: Women were approached around the 12th pregnancy week to complete a questionnaire (n=8,266) and to donate a blood sample (n=4,389); vitamin B-12 and folate concentrations were determined in serum. Infant crying behavior was measured through a postpartum questionnaire (±3months; n=5,218).
Subjects: Pregnant women living in Amsterdam and their newborn child.
Outcome Measures: Excessive infant crying, defined as crying at least 3 hours a day on average in the past week.
Results: Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed for 2,921 (vitamin B-12) and 2,622 (folate) women.
• Vitamin B-12 concentration (categorized into quintiles) was associated with excessive infant crying after adjustment for maternal age, parity, ethnicity, education, maternal smoking and psychological problems (OR[95%CI]: Q1=3.31[1.48-7.41]; Q2=2.50[1.08-5.77]; Q3=2.59[1.12-6.00]; Q4=2.77[1.20-6.40]; Q5 = reference).
• Stratified analysis suggested a stronger association among women with high levels of psychological problems during pregnancy.
• Folate concentration was not associated with excessive infant crying.
Conclusions: First evidence is provided for an early nutritional origin in excessive infant crying. A low maternal vitamin B-12 status during pregnancy could, in theory, affect infant crying behavior through two potential mechanisms:
• The methionine-homocysteine metabolism
• And/or the maturation of the sleep-wake rhythm.
Source: Early Human Development, Feb 14, 2011. PMID: 21324613, by Goedhart G, van der Wal MF, van eijsden M, Gonsel GJ. Public Health Service, Dapartment of Epidemiology, Documentation and Health Promotion, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. [Email: G.Goedhart@uu.nl]