Infantile colic and the role of trait anxiety during pregnancy in relation to psychosocial and socioeconomic factors

Scand J Public Health. 2005;33(1):26-34. doi: 10.1080/14034940410028316.


Aims: A study was undertaken to assess the impact of psychological, psychosocial and socioeconomic factors on the risk of having a child with infantile colic.

Methods: Psychosocial and psychological factors were assessed by self-administered questionnaires in the 17th, and by telephone interviews in the 35th-37th pregnancy weeks; infantile colic occurrence was assessed by telephone interviews at infant age 5 weeks; subjects were 1,099 mother-infant dyads.

Results: High trait anxiety increased the colic risk; OR 2.04 (95% CI: 1.16, 3.59), and so did affirming a perceived risk of spoiling young infants with too much physical contact; OR 1.77 (1.07, 2.91). In the final step of a multivariate model, not cohabiting with the child's father was the factor with the strongest association with colic; OR 3.48 (1.38, 8.77). Analyses of effect modification showed that high education seemed to protect from the influence of high trait anxiety. Young women were particularly high in trait anxiety, and being exposed to both these risk factors seemed to act synergistically on the risk of having a colicky infant; OR 2.41 (1.12, 5.18).

Conclusions: Psychological and psychosocial factors were found to be significantly related to an increased risk for infantile colic, and these factors interacted with age, parity, social support, and educational level in a complex manner. Even though no single most important psychosocial risk factor was identified, the findings lend support to the strategy of offering special attention in terms of information and support in the maternal healthcare system to very young women, women who do not cohabit with the father, and women with high trait anxiety.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / complications*
  • Colic / etiology*
  • Colic / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Single Parent / psychology
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires