This is known as the ‘rule of three’ which doctors use to make the diagnosis of colic after ruling out other diseases that may make a baby cry uncontrollably.
Parents must also be aware of the following ‘red flag’ symptoms that may indicate other potentially more serious complications.
These include the following:
In these instances, an immediate consultation with a physician is indicated to check for things such as infections, breathing issues, increased brain pressure (meningitis, bruising, hydrocephalus), skin pain (rash), mouth pain (yeast infection), eye pain (glaucoma or scratched lens),intestinal blockage, food allergy, heart failure, kidney blockage, overdose.
While no one wants to see their newborn suffer from such health issues, the prudent & responsible thing to do is to rule these things out especially if any of the red flag symptoms are present.
Parents of colicky infants report significantly higher levels of stress that parents whose babies do not have colic.
The stress & frustration of trying to soothe a colicky baby may interfere with mother-baby bonding and can increase the risk of post-partum depression.
Also, colicky babies are more likely to be victims of child abuse & shaken baby syndrome.
Despite all the research done on colic, there has been no definite cause or causes identified which can make treatment difficult.
But there have been a number of factors identified that seem to be common to colicky babies.
Under normal circumstances, a colicky baby typically presents with a loud piercing cry, flexed legs, tensed muscles ( especially the abdominals ), and clenched fingers.
Colic usually starts around 3 weeks of age & can last for up to 6 to 12 months. Approximately 10 – 20% of newborns are affected by colic.
Factors linked to colic : the gastrointestinal (stomach ) theory of colic seems logical because fussy babies often grunt, pass wind, double-up, cry after eating, spit-up, have noisy tummies ( gurgling, bowel sounds), find relief with tummy pressure, warmth or massage & may improve with pain medication or sips of herbal tea for stomach upset.
But interestingly, 85 – 90 % of colicky babies have no evidence of gastrointestinal abnormality.
One research study concluded that colic is actually less prevalent in breast-fed babies.
It is now fairly well established that there are a variety of causes of colic symptoms.
The most common include stomach gas due to poor burping technique, trapped intestinal gas, neurologic overload ( the overwhelmed & overstimulated baby that becomes exhausted ) and even a muscular type of colic due to muscle spasm & birth trauma.
Some researchers say that babies cry because they sense their mothers anxiety.
While this may be partially true, babies really don’t have the ability to distinguish a mothers anxiety from frustration or depression etc.
In fact, even though parental anxiety becomes less with successive children, it has been shown that later children are just as likely to be colicky as the first.
Colic has been linked by some researchers to the babies diet.
The most problematic foods for fussy babies seems to be cow’s milk or formulas based in cow’s milk, and for breast feeding babies, dairy products in the mother’s diet.
Food allergens from the mother’s diet may include wheat, soy & nuts.
Stimulants in the mother’s diet may also contribute to colic ( medication, caffeine, alcohol etc. ).
NOTE: dairy products are not friendly to the human body. The protein found in dairy products called casein is very difficult for the human body to digest. Have you ever wondered why cows’ have 4 stomachs? The reason being it takes this many stomachs for calves to digest their own mothers’ milk ,so how could anyone think that cow’s milk would be fit for human (only one stomach) consumption?! If you are unable to feed your baby breast milk, use goat’s milk as this is the closest in composition to human milk. Also, I do not advise using soy milk as many individuals are sensitive &/or allergic to soy. Check your labels. Many food products contain dairy & soy.
Birth trauma has also been linked to colic.
As your child is being born, the vertebrae of the neck & back can go out of alignment due to the compressing, stretching & twisting that takes place during the birth process.
If the delivery included hours & hours of labour, a prolonged pushing stage, forceps &/or vacuum extraction, or other difficulties ( breech, base posterior, c- section ), the chances of misalignment are great.
If these misalignments (called subluxations) are big enough, the functioning of the major systems of the body (including the digestive system) can become compromised. Ineffective digestion of breastmilk or formula can cause major discomfort in the baby leading to colicky episodes.
Also, subluxations anywhere in the spine (neck, mid-back, lower back) can cause pain making the baby uncomfortable.
And do not think that little spines are immune to misalignments.
After 25 years of family practice, I have seen hundreds of childhood ailments (including colic) result from spinal misalignments and in many cases, we have been able to trace adult health issues all the way back to birth trauma.
Chiropractic care has shown some of the best results with 94% of colicky babies demonstrating improvement with chiropractic adjustments.
Research on chiropractic care & colic has shown significant benefits over other treatments such as dietary changes, medications & infant positioning.
A randomized clinical trial published in 1999 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that “Spinal manipulation (chiropractic adjustment) is effective in relieving infantile colic.”
Another study with 316 children showed significant improvement in colic in response to chiropractic care.
And, I have personally witnessed the amazing results that chiropractic adjustments have on colicky babies in my own practice.
Sometimes, dietary changes are also required but the greatest impact certainly comes from the adjustment.
Not only does it offer great relief & comfort for the baby, but for the parents as well.
If you are reading this, you probably know firsthand how much a colicky baby can upset the entire home environment.
Chiropractic care is a conservative, gentle & very successful option for treating infants with colic.
The adjustments are gentle & safe often only requiring finger tip pressure.
It is not uncommon to see your baby relax right before your eyes as the misalignments are corrected.
If you would like more information on how chiropractic can help colic, please call 905 335 LIFE (5433) or you can schedule an appointment for a consultation.
There is never any charge to come in & talk to me, & remember we are always here to help in any way that we can.
Listen to what others have to say……….
I would like to write this testimonial to thank Dr Brad for all of his help & understanding throughout our ‘extreme fussiness’ or ‘colic’ phase with our daughter T.
We came to Dr Brad’s office after 2 months of yelling, screaming, sleepless nights and wondering what we were doing wrong. Nothing, I mean nothing we did – car rides, holding, rocking, nursing her or walks in her stroller calmed her down. Medically she was fine, our MD couldn’t find any reason for the ‘extreme fussiness’ and we were told it would soon pass.
When she was in her colic bouts nothing could stop her for hours. The longest bout was 10 hrs; 2pm to 12am of crying. That was the day my in-laws were here & they were ready to ship her off to the ER to see what was wrong with her.
It was on the suggestion of a friend that I try chiropractic as she mentioned that a friend of hers had a colicky baby like T & she swore that after 1 adjustment she was changed forever.
I called Dr Brad’s office & made an appointment. He sat with me patiently listening to the story of her birth & listened to me as I went about telling him how frustrated we were not being able to console her when she cries. He examined her & explained to me what he would do & how the treatment would progress. We started that afternoon. I was hopeful that one adjustment would change everything, but to be honest it didn’t. It took a few weeks before we noticed a significant change in her.
The late night crying subsided, and the evening ones were not as long & drawn out. She still did scream & cry but not for as long & often. She at least seemed to be comforted now by holding her & rocking her in her car seat. We kept up the appointments and each week we noticed she was becoming quieter & a bit happier. Until one day she was so happy all day, it was wonderful! My husband & I talked & he too saw a huge difference in our little screamer. She seemed content & happy all of a sudden & the crying was minimal.
She is now 8 months old. she still at times lets out a high pitched scream just to get our attention or the attention of others. I won’t say that she doesn’t cry anymore, she does when she is hungry, tired or frustrated because she can’t reach a toy, but I’m happy to say that we are ‘colic free’ & have been for months. Strangers even comment how happy & content she is, if they only knew what we went through…..
We are still keeping our regular chiropractic visits and she is doing well. I can’t imagine how long this could have lasted for if we had not taken the advice of a friend & tried chiropractic. Many thanks to Dr Brad for his understanding & helping us overcome this unforgettable time in her life & ours. To his staff for always greeting us happily at our appointments and making us feel welcome each & every visit.
H.S. re: daughter T. (10 weeks old)