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Infantile colic, another medical mystery, baffles parents and doctors. Unlike renal (kidney) colic due to a stone, we don’t know what causes colic in babies. But whatever the cause, it frustrates and tires parents of affected infants.
Colic is defined as “paroxysms of inconsolable crying”. Since there are many reasons babies cry, ranging from wet diapers to hunger to serious illness, doctors have established specific diagnostic criteria for colic, since there is no diagnostic test for it.Doctors consider the crying diagnostic of colic if it occurs
- 3 hours per day
- More than 3 days per week
- Longer than 3 weeks.
Possible causes for colic include
- Changes in gut bacteria
- Intolerance to cow’s milk protein or lactose
- Gut inflammation
- Poor feeding technique
- Maternal smoking or other nicotine use
The episodes typically resolve by 3 to 6 months of age.No long term consequences result from colic, but parents and babies both need relief from the distress it causes.
Three strategies seem to be most helpful.
For breast fed infants,
Mother can try a low-allergen diet. This means restricting intake of cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy and fish.
Another alternative is the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (strain DSM 17938). Unfortunately in bottle fed babies, this seems to make colic worse.
As always, the best source of advice is your baby’s own physician, so talk first before making any changes.