No one really knows what causes colic. Maybe that is because any time a baby cries it is often blamed on colic.
Although the cause isn't exactly known, some facts about colic that are known include that:
- Colic often begins when a baby is three weeks old, peaks when he is six weeks old, and is typically gone by about three months
- Babies with colic often cry for about two or three hours a day, at about the same time each day, often in the early evening
- Colic doesn't usually cause other symptoms and babies with colic typically feed and gain weight well
- There is no known cure or medical treatment for colic, although parents often try homeopathic colic tablets and gripe water, which are popular over-the-counter colic treatments
Although often blamed on digestive problems or formula allergies, colic is likely a normal developmental stage that some newborns go through. Some experts describe it as a baby's way of blowing off steam.
What are the Symptoms of Colic?
A child who is otherwise well, who cries or is fussy several hours a day, especially from 6 pm to 10 pm, with no apparent reason, may have colic. Also, babies with colic may burp frequently or pass a significant amount of gas, but this is thought to be due to swallowing air while crying, and is not a cause of colic. The face may be flushed. The abdomen may be tense with legs drawn toward it. The hands may be clenched and the feet are often cold.
The symptoms of colic may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
Who is at Risk for Colic?
Infants who are either under or over fed may be more susceptible to colic. Those who are allergic to formula or something in the mother's diet (if breastfed), are prone to colic symptoms. Infants in the 0 to 3 month age range who are started on cereal or other high carbohydrate food are also likely to develop colic as a result of excessive fermentation. Lastly, an emotionally unstable environment may contribute to colic symptoms in an infant.
Why is Colic a Concern?
Colic may become a concern due to the following reasons:
- frustrating and stressful to parents
- parents and infant lose sleep
- infant may be overfed in an attempt to stop the crying
Babies with colic usually grow and gain weight appropriately, despite being fussy or irritable, being gassy, and losing sleep.
How is Colic Diagnosed or Evaluated?
A physician will examine your baby and obtain a medical history. Questions might be asked about how long and how often your child cries, if you have noticed anything that seems to trigger the crying, and what comfort measures are effective, if any. Blood tests and x-rays or other imaging tests may be done to determine if there are other problems present.
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