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Newborn's Colic May Be the Sign of Relationship Problems

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As if moms with colicky babies didn't have enough to make them feel like crap, now this study that thinks it might have found the reason babies get colic in the first place: Mommy and Daddy don't love each other enough.


Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University hinted at the bad relationship-colic connection following published results of its study of around 3,000 moms, ages 18 to 35 years old, who were participants in Penn State's First Baby Study. Participants had all had their first babies between January 2009 and April 2001.

Study author Kristen Kjerulff, professor of public health sciences at Penn State, and her team write that the data seemed to indicate that low levels of happiness with one's partner, and also low levels of support within or outside that partnership, may have put their babies at an increased risk for colic.

Just over 11 percent of the moms in the study reported that their infants had colic. Some medical experts estimate as much as 25 of infants show signs of colic in their first weeks (and sometimes months) of life.

As a part of the studies, these news moms reported on surveys their levels of happiness with their partner and also how much support they received from them and also from other family and friend.

As part of the study, mothers were required to report how happy they were with their partner, how much social support they received from their partner, and the level of social support they received from family members and friends.

They found that the happier these moms reported being during pregnancy and after giving birth, the less likely they were to report their baby had colic—that's even accounting for those who reported postpartum depression.

Maybe some extra kissy-face for your baby (and the new mom) will pay off for everyone.

What make the risk of colic even lower, according to the data, were moms who had greater social support from their partners—especially ones who stepped up in caring for their infants and showing the newborns lots of love and affection.

Piling on the relationships idea was their finding that single moms reported fewer cases of colic. They think that may tie in with the finding that moms who had more social support reported fewer cases of colic (though they admit the finding was statistically insignificant but something to look out more closely in the future).

The immediate upshot of all of this is, while couples can go it alone in getting through those first months with a new baby, laying the groundwork for lots of support—including for each other—is perhaps a useful way to lower the risk of their new bundle of joy turning into an inconsolable crier. And partners? Maybe some extra kissy-face for your baby (and the new mom) will pay off for everyone.

These findings were published in Child: Care, Health and Development.

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