Excessive crying in babies linked to later problems

Babies who persistently cry and those who have difficulties with sleeping or feeding are more likely to develop behavioural problems in later life, a study suggests.

Researchers found that infants who experience those difficulties, known as regulatory disorders, could have an increased chance of experiencing conditions such as ADHD.

Scientists from Warwick University worked with colleagues at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and the University of Bochum, Germany, to analyse 22 studies carried out between 1987 and 2006, looking at a possible link between the issues. They concluded that the more types of regulatory disorder suffered, the higher the risk of later problems. "Regulatory problems in infancy can increase the likelihood of developing behaviour problems in childhood," the authors said. "Our findings highlight the need for... reliable assessments of crying, sleeping or feeding problems."

About 20 per cent of all babies experience excessive crying, sleeping difficulties and feeding problems, the researchers said. "Those with persisting regulatory problems in families with other problems may require early interventions," the authors said.

The study is published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood journal.