Crying is the primary means through which an infant communicates with a caregiver and is therefore essential to infant survival and wellbeing. Crying, however, can also put a strain on parent-child relationships and place a child at risk. Excessive crying in early infancy is a common complaint brought to pediatricians, a frequent reason for giving up breastfeeding, and the most often cited trigger for infant abuse and Shaken Baby Syndrome. In addition to its important role in parent-child dynamics, infant crying serves as a diagnostic tool for clinicians. Recent research suggests that abnormalities in infant cry sounds may be used to detect infant brain injury and vulnerability for autism. Infant crying has been the focus of a great deal of research because of its centrality to infant health and the development of the parent-child bond. The International Infant Cry Workshop is a scientific meeting convened every two to three years devoted entirely to research on infant crying from multidisciplinary perspectives. Scientists from diverse fields gather to share findings on the a wide array of topics related to infant crying and health, including: crying's diagnostic value and value in predicting infant outcomes;how crying is affected by parental care and other environmental factors;relations between infant crying, physiology and emotional health;and characteristics of caregivers related to differences in optimal, sensitive and abusive responses to crying. There has been substantial progress in cry research since the last meeting in 2011, for example, using fMRI technology to document parents'responses to crying and identifying abnormalities in cry sounds associated with autism. The next cry workshop will be held in Warwick, England from July 7th through July 9th 2014. The theme of the workshop will be """"""""Infant Crying: Biological Bases, Developmental Consequences, and Clinical Issues."""""""" The workshop will examine infant crying from different basic research and applied/clinical perspectives with the aim of translating basic research findings into useful clinical interventions and identifying best practices in infant health care. This conference is unique because it brings basic scientists and clinical researchers together in an intimate setting that is ideally suited fo suggesting new avenues of research and sparking effective collaborations. Funding from the NIH is being sought to underwrite the participation costs of three invited speakers who will greatly enrich the scientific program of the meeting.

Public Health Relevance

Because babies do not talk, they communicate to those who take care of them by crying. A baby's cries convey important information about the baby's health. Crying is therefore a useful tool for assessing a baby's health and plays an important role in parent-child bonding. The International Infant Cry Workshop is a three-day scientific meeting devoted to research on all aspects of baby crying. Participants share scientific findings and plan future research to promote the health and wellbeing of babies. The continuation of this conference will improve the quality of life for infants, parents, and families throughout the U.S. and the world.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Conference (R13)
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Study Section
Developmental Biology Subcommittee (CHHD)
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Esposito, Layla E
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Vassar College
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Zeifman, Debra M; St James-Roberts, Ian (2017) Parenting the Crying Infant. Curr Opin Psychol 15:149-154