Working with colleagues at the Institute of Education, University College London (UCL) De Montfort University and Leicestershire Partnership Trust (LPT), University of Leicester, The National Childbirth Trust and CRY-sis, Sue will help develop an intervention package designed to support parents with babies who cry excessively. The research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This research is a first step in developing and evaluating new evidence-based NHS services to support parents whose babies cry for prolonged amounts of time. It aims to find out whether a large-scale study is justified.
"Most infants who cry a lot are well. However, the crying can distress vulnerable parents and disrupt their ability to provide care. Parents may misinterpret the crying and think their baby is not getting enough to eat. Some mothers may decide to give up breast feeding, which may be detrimental to infant health, since breast feeding promotes healthy infant development" said Sue.
The crying can sometimes trigger depression in vulnerable women, lead to poor parent-child relationships and child development and, in rare cases, precipitate infant abuse. At the moment there are no evidence-based NHS practices for supporting parents in managing infant crying. Instead, parents turn to popular books, magazines or websites, which give conflicting advice.
"By focusing on how to support parents, health services may reduce parental distress, support parenting and children's development and improve NHS clinical and cost-effectiveness. "We are fortunate that we are working with LPT on this research. With the help of the health visiting teams and with parents who have previously managed their babies' excessive crying, we can now look to developing a novel intervention package to support parents in the future."