Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Babies' Cries Linked To Their Health; Simple Test Can Show Fitness Of Infants' Nervous Systems

Date:
May 16, 2005
Source:
Lifespan
Summary:
Leading researchers in colic and infant development say that a simple analysis of babies' cries can provide a window into their neurological and medical status.

Providence, RI -- Leading researchers in colic and infant development say that a simple analysis of babies' cries can provide a window into their neurological and medical status.

In a research review in the current issue of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, Linda LaGasse, PhD, and Barry Lester, PhD, with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC) and Brown Medical School looked at previous studies that analyzed the acoustics of a baby's cry. The authors cite the characteristics of a cry that can indicate problems in a baby's nervous system, as well as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In addition, they cite the importance of how parents react to their squalling offspring.

"The cry signal has enormous potential diagnostic value; for example, very high pitched cries can tell us that something may be wrong with the infant, so the cry signal can be an early warning that leads to further neurological testing," says LaGasse.

Overall, studies have repeatedly shown that infants at medical risk (like premature babies), and infants who have been exposed to lead or drugs, cry at a higher and more variable frequency than normal, but at lower amplitude, and with short utterances. These types of cry signals point toward a capacity problem in the respiratory system as well as an increased tension and instability of neural control of the vocal tract.

"Given the results of earlier studies relating cry characteristics to known neurological compromise, these findings suggest that at-risk infants have undetected neurological damage and that cry analysis may be able to identify these infants when no other symptoms are present," says Lester.

In looking at cry analyses on sudden infant death syndrome, researchers found that high resonance and changes in the cry mode were consistent markers associated with SIDS. Resonance is the characteristic of a sound's richness and depth that help humans distinguish a C note on a piano versus a guitar, and mode changes are noisy, broken-sounding cries that indicate poor neural control of the vocal track.

While someone might be able to point out a noisy cry, there is little evidence that a high resonance is distinguishable from a low resonance by an untrained listener.

"Instead, resonance is identified by a computerized analysis of the cry signal in the studies cited in the paper -- this is why a detailed analysis of the cry signal is an important part of understanding the 'full message' of the cry," says LaGasse.

The authors also note that parents tend to understand the nature of their babies' cries well, and stress the importance of parental reaction to cries.

"Parents can usually tell the difference between pain and non-pain cries which guides the urgency of their care taking, and helps parents deal with infants with colic," says LaGasse.

But parent perception of their infant's cry may be affected by conditions such as depression or age of parent which can lead to action or nonaction which may be out of sync with the infant's needs. The most extreme case is "shaken baby syndrome" where the cry triggers aggression rather than concern in the caretaker.

Lester and LaGasse say that clinicians should be aware of how parents respond (or don't respond) to their baby's crying, especially in light of the high prevalence of depression in young mothers.

"Helping parents to correctly interpret their infants' cries can optimize development particularly in high risk infants who may have atypical signals or high risk parents who may misperceive a normal cry," they write.

###

Founded in 1931 as the nation's first psychiatric hospital for children, Bradley Hospital (www.bradleyhospital.org) remains a premier medical institution devoted exclusively to the research and treatment of childhood psychiatric illnesses. Bradley Hospital, located in Providence, RI, is an affiliate of Brown Medical School and ranks in the top third of private hospitals receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health. Its research arm, the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC), brings together leading researchers in such topics as: autism, colic, childhood sleep patterns, HIV prevention, infant development, obesity, eating disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and juvenile firesetting. Bradley Hospital is a member of the Lifespan health system.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lifespan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lifespan. "Babies' Cries Linked To Their Health; Simple Test Can Show Fitness Of Infants' Nervous Systems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050516151316.htm>.
Lifespan. (2005, May 16). Babies' Cries Linked To Their Health; Simple Test Can Show Fitness Of Infants' Nervous Systems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050516151316.htm
Lifespan. "Babies' Cries Linked To Their Health; Simple Test Can Show Fitness Of Infants' Nervous Systems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050516151316.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins