Mothers who experience anxiety or depression during pregnancy are more likely to have children who are picky eaters, according to new research published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Picky eating behavior is exactly what it sounds like — a consistent rejection of certain foods. It’s also pretty common among toddlers. But while many people dismiss it as “just a phase,” the self-imposed restricted diet has been associated with constipation, weight issues, and behavioral problems.

The researchers said they discovered a link between mothers who internalized their problems during pregnancy and up to three years after birth and children who were fussy eaters. They also found indications that dads with emotional stress had a similar effect on their children.

For the study, researchers recruited 4,746 mothers and their children, all of whom were born between 2002 and 2006. In this group, 4,144 fathers were included. The parents completed questionnaires during mid-pregnancy, and then again three years later, to assess their own symptoms of anxiety and depression. They also completed surveys to assess their child’s eating habits.

Nearly 30 percent of all children were classified as fussy eaters by the age of 3. After taking into account factors like parental age and education level, the researchers found each additional point a pregnant mother scored on the anxiety scale correlated with an extra point on their child’s “food-fussiness” score. If this anxiety persisted through the child’s preschool years, they were more likely to be selective eaters too.

“Sensitivity analyses showed that not only children of mothers with clinically significant anxiety had elevated food fussiness scores, but children of mothers with anxiety scores above average also had higher food fussiness scores than children of mothers with average or below average anxiety scores,” the study authors wrote.

When it came to the fathers, their anxiety also played a part in their child’s fussy eating. They weren't worried about the mother or the pregnancy; it was their own depression and anxiety at both the beginning of the study and at follow-up that predicted fussy eating in their kid.

Although the study doesn’t show a causal relationship between parental anxiety and depression and children’s eating habits, it "strongly suggests that the direction of the associations with mothers' antenatal symptoms is from mother to child.” To fix this, the researchers said parents should seek help with managing their own problems, which in turn would help encourage more diverse eating habits in their children down the road.

Source: De Barse L, Cano S, Jansen P, et al. Are Parents’ Anxiety and Depression Related to Child Fussy Eating? Archives of Disease in Childhood . 2016.