Speaking of Health – New Mothers and their crying children

By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC

Today’s column will be of value to new mothers or mothers of infants with the very common complaint of an otherwise healthy baby crying excessively.  Colic has specific criteria that are used to help diagnose the complaint, called the “Rule of Three.”  In this rule, colic may be considered if the baby’s crying lasts for more than three hours, more than 3 days per week and persists for more than three weeks.  However, the last criterion is not usually met because most parents will not wait that long to take their baby to the doctor.

Colic usually occurs between the ages of two weeks and four months of age, with males and females equally affected.  The exact cause is unknown, but there are some theories, including infant gastroesophageal disease, allergy to cow’s milk, soy milk or breast milk, intolerance to fruit juice, swallowing air during feeding, overfeeding too quickly, not burping after feeding, tobacco smoke exposure, parental anxiety, baby’s inability to console himself, and lactose overload, usually from breast mild.

Risk factors have not been definitively established, but it has been suggested that exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy, or a maternal history of migraine headaches, tend to increase the incidence of colic.  If there is excessive vomiting, poor weight gain, recurrent upper respiratory infections, or bloody stools, the baby should be referred to a specialist as soon as possible.

Some general measures that can be employed to try to soothe the baby include rocking the baby, use of a pacifier, infant swings or car rides, placing the baby near white noise, such as a dryer, swaddling or wrapping the baby tightly in a blanket, or laying the baby on its side.  Small doses of chamomile tea may be beneficial, but overall, the symptoms of colic will resolve after the baby is six months old.


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