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A connection Between Cry Babies and Postpartum Depression

ble with their infants’ crying, including newborns with colic, which is clinically defined as crying at least three hours a day, three days a week, during the first three months of life. After conducting an exam and taking a medical history, clinic staffers help new mothers – and fathers – console their babies, pinpoint the cause of the crying, and take care of their own needs.

“At the clinic, it is not unusual to see mothers who are very tired and sometimes very anxious and depressed,” High said. “Moms are trying hard to understand their child’s needs and meet those needs. Sometimes they feel inadequate when they can’t console their baby.”

The study is based on responses to the Rhode Island PRAMS, an ongoing, confidential survey of women who have recently given birth. The state is one 32 participating in PRAMS, which is funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and aims to improve the health of new mothers and their babies.

Each month, women are randomly chosen to receive the survey, which covers topics such as prenatal care, smoking, and nutrition and breast-feeding. High is a member of the Rhode Island PRAMS steering committee. The committee could choose a few state-specific questions that would be added to the standard survey. The survey already asked about depression. Wondering if there was a connection to colic, High suggested another: “How inconsolable is your baby?”

The new question appeared on Rhode Island’s first PRAMS survey, administered in 2002, and again in 2003. A total of 4,214 new mothers got the questionnaire and 2,927 responded. The majority of mothers were white, married, had household incomes over $40,000 per year and had health insurance. Most of their babies were between two and four months of age.

The results: 19 percent of mothers reported moderate to severe symptoms of postpartum depres-sion. And 8 percent reported that their babies were difficult to co
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