What is colic?

As many as 26 percent of all babies are diagnosed with colic in their first weeks of life. This condition of constant fussing and crying can many times leave parents feeling frustrated and helpless. A colicky baby has long periods of inconsolable crying and hard-to-calm behavior, but has no signs of failure to thrive. The fact that crying occurs for no apparent cause is one of the main reasons it is distressing and worrisome for parents.

 

What causes colic?

The reasons for infantile colic are multifactorial. It can be overproduction of intestinal gas, forceful intestinal contraction, hypersensitivity to cow’s milk protein, changes in intestinal microbiota or maybe all of them combined. However growing evidence has linked the gut bacteria to colic in infancy. Clinical studies have shown that babies with colic have lower counts of good bacteria as well as increased number of harmful bacteria in their digestive tracts. This can cause all sorts of digestive problems, including colic.

Read more about our important gut bacteria

 

Does my baby have colic?

The most common diagnostic criteria for colic is if the child is under the age of five months and has recurrent and prolonged periods of crying, fussing, or irritability that occur without obvious cause and cannot be prevented or resolved by caregivers. The infant should not show any evidence of failure to thrive, fever or illness. This type of crying typically peaks at approximately six weeks of life and ends around the fourth month.

 

Gut motility = a good gut feeling

Gut motility is a term that describes the contractions of the muscles that are responsible for breaking down and moving food from the stomach, through the intestines, to the bowels. In other words how a child’s digestive system works. If the child’s gut motility is not fully developed or disrupted for some reason, this may cause pain and excessive gas and lead to unfortunate and frustrating results like colic, constipation or regurgitation.

 

Key facts about colic

  • One in four babies are diagnosed with colic
  • Colic usually ends around the fourth month
  • A colicky baby is not an unhealthy baby
  • The crying is often worse in the evening hours, but can be present at other times as well
  • The cause of colic is multifactorial and not fully understood
  • Colicky infants have been seen to have a lower number of certain type of healthy gut bacteria
  • Colic usually reaches it peak at the age of six to eight weeks