Baby Colic Symptoms and Treatment

By:  Vanessa Lee

We have all heard parents complaining, “this baby never stops crying, is up all night, none of us are getting sleep, and we have tried everything! We just don’t know what to do.” Parents of an infant with colic are not alone, and new research is shining a different light on colic that is bringing hope to families of crying babies and asking the question, “is colic really just a myth?”

Estimates say that one in five infants suffer from inconsolable crying, generally diagnosed as colic. A crying infant is hard on the entire family and parents will try anything to calm their child. Let’s face it, everyone has the miracle cure for a crying baby that you have to try whether it be prescription medications, folk remedies, or that “amazing new product.” Some may work, at times, but for most parents nothing works all of the time.

We have learned of a book by Dr. Bryan Vartabedian titled Colic Solved: The Essential Guide to Infant Reflux and the Care of Your Crying, Difficult-to-Soothe Baby. In his book, Dr. Vartabedian, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital shares his beliefs that colic is really a wastebasket term that pediatricians use “when they have no idea what in the heck is going on.”

He estimates, 60 percent or more of babies dubbed colicky have either milk-protein allergy or acid reflux disease, a condition in which the stomach contents come back up and irritate the esophagus. Both of these conditions “are highly treatable” by a pediatrician.

Dr. Vartabedian explains that babies are especially prone to acid reflux for several reasons. They drink only liquid, which is less likely to stay put, they don’t benefit from gravity until they’re old enough to sit up, and their stomachs do not empty effectively.

He advised parents to watch for these signs of reflux in their “colicky” baby: spitting and vomiting , constant hiccups, feeding disturbances such as pulling away from the nipple and grimacing, chronic irritability, discomfort while laying on the back, sleep disturbance and chronic cough and/or congestion.

Symptoms of milk-protein allergy include blood-streaked stools, mucus in the diaper, crankiness, diarrhea, eczema, and wheezing and congestion.

Parents need to feel empowered to find the cause of their infants crying. If you feel that you are not getting the help you need, look elsewhere until your needs are met.

It is also important that during the months that you have a crying infant you get help for the entire family. Every family reacts differently to crying babies. Some families may need intervention. Treatment may be as simple as getting a baby-sitter so that the family can leave the home and have some downtime for the evening, or even a weekend away, where other families may need medical intervention. Most importantly, parents need to know that this is not their fault.

For more information on colic visit the Keep Kids Healthy child health site.