What is colic?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
What is colic?
Fri, 07-09-2010 - 5:53pm
When your baby is in pain do you know the difference to Colic or maybe some thing else..but if you are not sure no harm in seeing a doctor to rule out serious problems
What is colic?

Colic is the name given to the sharp, intermittent abdominal pains suffered by 20-25% of babies. It is uncontrollable, extended crying in a baby who is otherwise healthy and well-fed. Every baby cries, but babies who cry for more than three hours a day, three to four days a week, may have colic.

When a baby has colic, the life of the family is turned upside down. The parents find it extremely stressful and upsetting when their baby is crying for hours and cannot be comforted. For first-time parents in particular, it can be a shock and a disappointment to discover that the newborn baby is not the bundle of joy one was expecting. Parents may also feel guilty even though they are not the cause of their child's colic.

One should remember that the child is healthy and will outgrow the colic in a few months' time. Colic does not harm the development of the child.

Signs & Symptoms of colic?

These are several signs of colic:

  • colic can start within two to four weeks after birth and the child suffers from it for up to three months.
  • the baby cries loudly, often for two to three hours and can't be comforted.
  • the baby often cries at roughly the same time and usually once or twice a day.
  • the baby has bowel pains.
  • the baby pulls their feet up under their body and clenches their fists. • some babies' stomachs rumble severely and they produce a lot of wind.

One must remember that colic might not be the only cause of your child's discomfort. If a baby cries loudly all the time and cannot be comforted, a doctor should always be consulted before the parent decides their baby has colic.

Edited 7/9/2010 5:55 pm ET by cl-lynne_1.stayathome

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Fri, 07-09-2010 - 5:59pm
Theories and Causes of Colic.

There are several theories of causes suffered by newborns. Doctors don't know precisely what triggers the condition which can be caused by different factors.

Theories include the overworking of the intestines, which cause them to get a sort of cramp. Some doctors believe that colic arises because the child's bowel movements may be too slow, so that air in the bowel makes the intestines expand, causing the pain. Others believe that colic has something to do with eating too fast, eating too much, or swallowing too much air without burping. There is also a theory that there is a link between colic and whether or not the mother drinks cow's milk.

On the other hand, recent studies including those performed in the Department of Paediatrics, Guy's Hospital, London, published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics and another reported on the British Journal of Community Nurses, have shown that nearly half the babies suffered colic due to lactose intolerance. The babies’ symptoms had seized or significantly reduced upon treating milk with lactase enzyme.

Baby colic and lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is a common and often (as after infections) temporary problem in babies. It can be upsetting and unsettling for parents and the baby. The symptoms can include excessive wind and bloating, abdominal sensitivity/ discomfort, cramping or colic, diarrhoea and crying.

It results from shortage or insufficient production of the lactase enzyme. This enzyme is produced in the guts and its function is to break down the lactose present in human and animal milk into two absorbable smaller sugars called glucose and galactose. Lactose is in fact glucose and galactose linked together. Once the link is broken by lactase the two sugars are readily absorbed into the body to give the baby energy (fuel). Insufficient lactase production will cause the lactose to remain indigestible and bacteria that live in the guts use it themselves causing fermentation in the guts. This process causes the production of gas resulting in wind and bloating; one can feel the baby’s tummy rock hard. This fermentation also causes the bowels to react to it and the baby suffers from cramps and one can hear sounds coming from the tummy of the baby. Finally the pressure generated by lactose and lactic acid in the stomach produces an influx of water leading to a swollen abdomen and acidic diarrhoea. Changes in the osmotic pressure of the guts result in water loss and if left unattended the baby may suffer from dehydration.

The good news is that this is temporarily and eventually on further maturation, the baby will start producing enough enzymes to be able to cope with the lactose ingested. Premature babies are more likely to suffer from this type of colic, and it may take longer for them to be able to tolerate lactose as this depends on the maturation of the small intestine.

Treating Colic Caused by Lactose Intolerance.

In the research mentioned above, a group of babies was given milk added with a placebo while another group was given milk with treated with lactase. 45% of the babies either stopped showing further symptoms of colic or their crying was significantly reduced. The lactase in glycerol and water solution used helps break down the lactose and can be used in both formula or breast milk.