To assess duration of excessive crying and its relation to sleep and eating disturbances in a population sample of infants.
Random digit-dialing survey, enrolling birth cohorts between 1999 and 2003, in Germany.
Children aged 4 years and younger.
Excessive crying, retrospectively ascertained according to modified Wessel's criteria, and duration of excessive crying.
Main Outcome Measures
Severe eating or sleeping problems at interview.
The participation rate in the random digit-dialing survey was 62%. The analysis was confined to 1865 children with complete data. The observed prevalence for excessive crying ever was 16.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 14.7-18.1), beyond 3 months 5.8% (95% CI, 4.8-6.9), and beyond 6 months 2.5% (95% CI, 1.9-3.3). Excessive crying only in the first 3 months did not increase the prevalence of sleep or eating disturbances whereas crying beyond 6 months did; prevalence of eating disorders was 19.1% (95% CI, 9.1-33.3) and prevalence of sleeping disorders was 12.8% (95% CI, 4.8-25.7) compared with 2.7% (95% CI, 1.9–3.6) and 3.6% (95% CI, 2.7-4.6), respectively, in children without excessive crying.
Persistence of crying beyond the first 6 months heralded a higher prevalence of eating or sleeping difficulties in children with excessive crying than in children without excessive crying. These parents should be offered support and counseling over a broader spectrum of features related to multiple regulatory problems.