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Colic in Babies

Infant and Children | January 15, 2019 | Author: Naturopath

infants

Colic in Babies

Infantile colic is a common condition of new babies and causes significant stress to parents. It is described as 'insistent crying in otherwise healthy babies with no discernible cause'. Symptoms usually appear in the first month of life, peak at about 6-weeks of age and may disappear at about 4 months of age. The outburst of distress will often occur at the same time of day or night and may go on for hours. Colic is indescriminate, affecting male or female babies and breast or bottle fed.

Whilst it is normal for a baby to cry, continuous crying for long periods of time can be very distressing for parents.

Symptoms and signs

The main symptom of infant colic is crying for more than 3 hours more than three days per week. Baby may go red in the face, draw legs up towards tummy, clench fist and arch back – appearing like they have pain, and is hard to pacify.

Causes

First it is important to rule out other more serious causes. This might include:

  • Ear infection
  • Urinary infection
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Constipation
  • Food allergy – formula but also from mum
  • Acid reflux – usually due to an immature digestive system where the sphincter muscle that separates the oesophagus from the stomach opens regularly, allowing stomach acid to flow back up the throat causing burning and pain.
  • Meningitis - Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord

Serious symptoms such as vomiting, constipation, fever, trouble breathing, lethargy and poor weight gain are definitely concerning and need medical attention.

Why Does it Happen

Generally, the reason for colic is unknown, but there are some theories as to possible causes. These include:

  • Immaturity of the bowel
  • Food allergies – Intolerances such as to cow's milk protein, lactose intolerance or maternal allergen intake
  • Digestive inflammation
  • Increased serotonin secretion
  • Maternal smoking or nicotine replacement products
  • Feeding technique

What can help

coiic babyHaving a check-up with your medical practitioner is first step when it seems baby is crying excessively for no apparent reason. Once the doctor has been able to rule out other possible causes and parents are reassured that their parenting is by no means to blame.

Following some guidelines can be helpful especially for exhausted and stressed parents.

Probiotics

Studies have found the probiotic strain L. reuteri may be effective treatment for breastfed babies with colic. Other Lactobacillus species - L. delbrueckii subsp. delbrueckii DSM 20074 and L. plantarum MB 456 have proven helpful in relieving gas-forming bacteria and may be helpful in the management of wind and flatulence.

Change formula. Switching to a hydrolysed formula is an option for formula-fed infants. 
Click Here For Article

Adjust Diet. If breastfed, mum should eliminate stimulating foods from diet. These include: Coffee and caffeine containing drinks/foods, chocolate and even cow milk products can help.

Expert Advice. Call on the help of a lactation specialist/mother nurse to ensure baby is feeding correctly – latching on. If bottle-fed, check the teat is correct for baby's age.

Quick tips

  • Wrap/swaddle baby in light cloth
     
  • Hold baby close and comfort by gentle rocking or patting
     
  • Try not to over-stimulate with too much noise. Although white noise in the background may be soothing – a radio playing, vacuum, etcColic baby
     
  • Talk quietly and reassuringly (it can be a shock to be in our big world, unfamiliar noises and sensations such as having a full tummy)
     
  • Establish a regular pattern for baby with sleep, quiet time and bath time.
     
  • A warm bath will often settle baby
     
  • Make sure baby is getting enough sleep. New babies often get a lot of visitors and may be over stimulated by excited family and friends all wanting a turn to hold the new bub. Set some rules. It is your baby no matter what grandma says!
     
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed – call for help. Being exhausted with a crying baby IS something to cry about for parents so don’t feel bad if you need some away time.
     
  • Get some fresh air. Some times a walk in the park can be good for everyone
     
  • Excessive crying may cause aerophagia (excess swallowing of air) which can result in flatulence and abdominal distention.

To summarise

  • Colic is crying for no reason that can begin at around 1 month of age and usually ends at 3-4 months of age
  • It is important to rule out other causes
  • Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (strain DSM 17938) may help
  • Change diet – reducing allergen load may help with crying
  • Try measures of reassurance to baby such as swaddling, rocking and soothing talk
  • Ask for help if feeling overwhelmed

Click Here For Further Reading

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References

https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-au/professional/pediatrics/symptoms-in-infants-and-children/colic
Probiotics for infantile colic: a systematic review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225660/

Infantile Colic: Recognition and Treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2644744

https://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/index.html

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