Colic is a collection of symptoms in a newborn characterised by persistent crying, apparent abdominal pain and irritability.
The word Colic (derived from colon) suggests an intestinal disorder, however the true nature of Colic remains unknown. Colic may begin soon after a baby comes home from hospital or it may begin a few weeks later. It can last until the baby is 3-4 months of age. Colic is believed to affect 10-30% of infants.
Reflux, overfeeding, underfeeding, milk protein allergy, early introduction of solids, parental anxiety and stress, incomplete or inadequate burping after the feed and incorrect positioning after feeding.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Excessive hunger. - Vigorous sucking on anything available. - Crying. - The baby may be bloated and pass excessive gas. A baby with Colic usually eats and gains weight well.
The crying associated with Colic is described as being more variable and higher in pitch, more urgent, discomforting and irritating than regular crying.
In no way is this information intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner. Always consult your Doctor for diagnosis and advice. Your Doctor will examine your baby and may take blood and urine samples to rule out other disorders.
If your Doctor diagnoses Colic, the following may help: - Holding, rocking and/or patting may pacify a baby who cries for short periods. - If the baby has a strong sucking urge and is upset after a feeding, try feeding the baby for longer or using a pacifier. - A milk substitute formula can be tried to rule out milk protein intolerance. - If you are breastfeeding, try feeding your baby on one breast only; make sure your baby is latched on to the breast correctly; try lying on your side or your back to feed your baby and consider eliminating then reintroducing dairy foods from the diet to see if the baby improves. See the Colic Management Plan for further information.
Ask your Pharmacist for advice. 1) Follow the Diet Hints. 2) Some supplements might be suggested for the mother if the diet is inadequate. 3) Try a wind mixture given 10-15 minutes before a feed. Ask your Pharmacist for the best brand. 4) For bottle fed babies there is a range of anti-colic feeding bottles and teats available in the Pharmacy. 5) Place baby in a warm bath for 15 to 20 minutes to help it relax.
NOTE Even though the exact cause of Infant Colic is not known, trying to minimise the contributing factors may help. Using some of the above suggestions may ease the distressed infant during an attack of Colic. Remember that the baby's condition is not serious and most infants gain weight and are healthy in spite of Colic.
If the infant is breastfed and there is a problem, the mother should examine her diet. Watch for excess milk and other fatty foods. The mother may be including some food to which the baby is allergic. The older child, when on solid foods, should have a relaxed diet which is easy to digest. Include plenty of the vitamin B rich foods such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, chicken, avocado, green vegetables and liver. Look to having plenty of water every day and eat yoghurt to help the food be digested more easily. Lower the amount of sugar and sugar-containing products. See the Colic Management Plan topic for further information.
VITAMINS/MINERALS/HERBSNutrition supplements are only to be used if the dietary vitamin intake is inadequate. - If Colic is being caused by lactose intolerance in the mother and/or baby, an acidophilus supplement taken by the mother may be helpful. Acidophilus is a live culture, found in yoghurt, that helps to convert lactose to the non-irritating lactic acid. - If the mother's diet is inadequate, consider some nutritional supplements. Multi B vitamins, acidophilus, calcium, potassium and magnesium taken by the mother may help to reduce Colic in the baby and reduce excessive intestinal gas in the mother. Ask your Health Professional for advice. - A combination of the following herbal teas, taken by the mother three times a day, may help to reduce the severity of Colic in her baby; Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla), Vervain (Verbena officinalis), Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). One small cup of this herbal tea preparation may also be cooled, diluted and then given to the infant twice a day.