Colic is much more than a parenting annoyance. It is a condition in which an otherwise healthy well-fed baby cries frequently for extended periods. Colic affects up to 25 percent of babies. It usually appears within the first two weeks of life, most often disappears at 3 or 4 months, and rarely lasts until the baby’s first birthday. Interestingly, Colic occurs at the same frequency in bottle-fed and breastfed babies.
If your baby cries about the same time each day and nothing you do seems to offer comfort, your baby may have colic. Colic can be defined as crying more than three hours a day, three days a week for more than three weeks in an otherwise healthy baby. It is recommended that you consult your baby’s doctor if you’re concerned about your baby’s crying, especially if you notice changes in your baby’s eating, sleeping or behavior.
Although researchers have investigated numerous possibilities, the cause of colic is unknown. It is still unclear why some babies have colic and others don’t. Fortunately, colic does not seem to have any lasting medical consequences. Colicky babies grow and develop normally.
There are few treatment options for Colic. Medications, such as simethicone, are no better than placebo, and other medications can have serious side effects. Alternative therapies, such as various herbs, have also failed to show benefit, and some are even dangerous.
A recent research study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics provides hope for the babies and families. This study tested the effect of Lactobacillus reuteri (drops) on colic. Colicky infants were randomly assigned to receive either Lactobacillus or placebo daily for 21 days.
Forty-six infants completed the trial. Daily crying times were about 3 times less in the Lactobacillus than the placebo group at day 21. There were no differences in weight gain, stooling frequency, or incidence of constipation or regurgitation between groups, and no adverse events related to the supplementation were observed. Lactobacillus in infants improved symptoms of infantile colic and was well tolerated and safe.
Additionally, there is some good research that suggests that using soothing measures is effective in calming babies during crying bouts. These techniques form the core of the “5 S’s” approach:
- Swaddling (avoid overheating, covering the head, using bulky or loose blankets).
- Side or stomach holding (holding a baby on the back is the only safe position for sleep, but it is the worst position for calming a fussy baby).
- Shhh sound (making a strong “shh” sound near the baby’s ear or using a CD of womb sound/white noise).
- Swinging the baby with tiny jiggly movements (no more than 1” back and forth) always supporting the head and neck.
- Sucking (letting the baby suckle on the breast, your clean finger or a pacifier).
Remember that colic is temporary.
Dr. Tom Honka is a chiropractor specializing in the non-surgical treatment of spinal conditions. His clinic is located in Porterville. Call 781-2222 for more information.