The Italian Almanac

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crying baby

Cry Baby Cry

Newborn babies who cry a lot can end up with attention deficit problems and learning difficulties in later life, Italian researchers said. Research conducted by a multi-disciplinary team of bioengineers from Florence University and paediatricians at the city's Meyer Hospital showed particular risks for babies born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy) or who weigh less than 2.5 kg.

''We have confirmed our initial theory that prolonged crying can cause deoxygenation of the blood and that the brains of organisms not yet fully formed like those of premature newborn babies can suffer from this to the extent that it leads to serious growth problems,'' said Florence University bioengineer chief Claudia Manfredi. Non-invasive equipment including an infrared spectroscope to register the level of oxygen in the brain through a band worn on the forehead and a microphone to record the type of crying were developed in the course of the research to offer a full picture of what happens when a baby wails continuously.

The researchers advised parents to ''follow their natural animal instincts'' to comfort crying newborns.