Preschoolers are more likely to be fussy eaters if a parent had anxiety or depression during pregnancy or early in the child’s life, suggests a new study from the Netherlands.

“Fussy eating can really be a problem for the families,” said lead author Lisanne de Barse, of Erasmus MC-University Medical Center in Rotterdam. “Dinners can become very difficult. There is also some evidence that when a child continues to be a fussy eater there can continue to be additional health problems.”

Previously, fussy eating has been tied to constipation, weight problems and behavioral problems, the researchers write in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

“It’s not clear what influences fussy eating,” de Barse told Reuters Health. “What we knew is that there was a relationship between mothers’ anxiety and depression during the child’s life and their children’s fussy eating.”

Parents' anxiety, depression may cause kids being fussy choosy eatersBut researchers didn’t know whether anxiety and depression likely led to fussy eating, or if fussy eating led to mothers’ mental health problems.

For the new study, the researchers used data from the Generation R study, which followed pregnant women living in Rotterdam who delivered their child between April 2002 and January 2006.

Mothers and fathers solved questionnaires of the anxiety and depression while pregnant and again when youngsters had been three years old. The parents then reported regarding their children’s eating actions at age three and four years.

The experts had data on four, 746 mother and kid pairs. In addition they had info on 4,144 dads.

Overall, the researchers found, mothers’ anxiety and depression during and after pregnancy were tied to an increased risk of their children being fussy eaters.