08 November 2004


What type of baby were you when you were small? Did you cry a lot?

There is a study linking excessive crying in babies and cognitive development in later years.

Babies who continue to cry excessively for no obvious reason can go on to have difficulties in childhood, according to a new study of the US National Institutes of Health.

Excessive, uncontrolled crying that persisted beyond three months of age was linked with behavioural problems and lower IQ at the age of five.

When the children were five years old, the researchers assessed their intelligence, motor abilities and behaviour. The children who had continued to cry beyond three months of age as infants, which was not due to colic, had intelligence scores (IQs) nine points lower than the other children studied.

Prolonged crying was also linked with poorer fine motor abilities, hyperactivity and discipline problems in childhood. [The Times of Malta]

The full text of the study can be read here.

I wonder what's the reason behind the association. Excessive crying depletes the brain with the necessary oxygen supply?

I theorize that while excessive crying might cause a decrease in cognitive function later on, I think the annoying outburts might be good exercise for the diaphragm and vocal cords of the babies. They might some day become good vocalists, singers, and brodcasters..... who knows?

Sound crazy?

Ignore me. I just feel for the "cry babies." The study's design is prospective-cohort. As such, it makes its findings pretty reliable. And I think a decrease in cognitive function is too harsh a punishment for excessive crying as a baby.

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