Now, senior study author Kristen Kjerulff, professor of public health sciences at Penn State, and colleagues suggest that low relationship happiness and social support among mothers may put their infants at risk of colic.
Kjerulff and team reached their findings by assessing the data of 3,006 women aged between 18 and 35 years who were a part of Penn State’s First Baby Study. All women had given birth to their first child between January 2009 and April 2011.
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.
Around 11.6 percent of new mothers reported that their infant had colic.
‘Love makes a difference’
The researchers found that the happier mothers were in their relationship during and after pregnancy, the less likely they were to have an infant with colic. This finding remained even after accounting for postpartum depression.
Additionally, the risk of colic was lower for infants of mothers who reported greater social support from their partners. In particular, the team found that the more partners helped with infant care, and the greater a partners’ love and affection for the baby, the lower their infant’s colic risk.
Mothers who reporting receiving greater social support from family and friends also had infants with lower risk of colic.
The researchers were interested to find that the lowest risk of colic was found among infants of single mothers. While this finding was deemed statistically insignificant, the team points out that single mothers reported having higher levels of general social support, which may contribute to lower colic risk for infants.
“If you don’t have a partner you can still have lots of social support, lots of love, and lots of happy relationships, and all of that’s going to be better for the baby,” says Kjerulff. “Love makes a difference.”
In future research, the team plans to assess whether parental relationships and social support affect the risk of health complications related to infant colic, such as food allergies.
In the meantime, the researchers believe that their findings indicate that fathers play a significant role in their children’s risk of colic.
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