Colic is a condition where there are repeated bouts of excessive crying in a baby who is otherwise healthy. Colic is common as it is distressing and can affect up to three out of ten babies, says Dr. S. Palaniappan of Alia International Hospital.
According to Dr. Palaniappan, a normal healthy baby having periods of crying as if in pain for no apparent reason may be said to be colic. The cry may sound different and more piercing than normal and the baby might refuse to be fed and the usual methods of comforting may not seem to work.
Elaborating on this pain suffered by some babies, Dr. Palaniappan said that sometimes the baby's abdomen appears to rumble. This may go on and off for several hours until the baby settles down and falls asleep. This colic pain often occurs regularly, most commonly in the evenings, but can also occur at any other time. Bouts of colic gradually become less frequent, and by the age of 3 - 4 months it may disappear completely.
What causes colic? Despite a huge amount of research on this condition, the actual cause is still not clear. Smoking during pregnancy does increase the risk of your baby developing colic. Being in a smoky atmosphere (passive smoking) also increases the risk.
Help for colic babies and their parents: Consult your doctor to rule out other possible causes. Though there is no treatment that cures colic, one or more of the following may help.
Check for causes of discomfort: Make sure the baby is not cold, is not hungry, and is changed often enough. Try to create a relaxed atmosphere. Parents should also be in a relaxed frame of mind, as the more rested and relaxed you are the better you will be able to cope with the crying baby.
Soothe the baby: It is natural to try to soothe a crying baby by holding the baby through the crying episode. Remember never to shake a baby.
Time out: If possible, it is good to have some time out and leave someone else to look after your baby for a few hours. Friends or other family members may be willing to help. However, try to avoid several people fussing at once, as this may cause anxiety.
Diet of breast-feeding mothers: If you breast-feed, there is some evidence that it may help if you do not have cows' milk, dairy products, eggs, wheat, nuts and caffeine. Some women find cutting out spices or garlic is also helpful. If there is no improvement after you have made changes for a week, go back to your normal diet.
Medicines for colic: You could try a medicine called simeticone or a probiotic after consulting your doctor. However, there is no scientific evidence to support its use. Some people find gripe water helpful, but its use is not supported by research.
Popular but non-proven advice: White noise is background, nonspecific noise such as that made by vacuum cleaners, washing machines and other equipment that might help to soothe babies. You can even buy CDs of white noise which claim to soothe crying babies.
Car rides and carrying: Crying babies may settle on car journeys. It is possibly the white noise of the car engine and the gentle movements of the car does the trick. Pram rides or simple walking with the baby also seem to do good - it may be the movement that helps to soothe some babies.
If you are still finding it hard to cope with the colic baby then do see your doctor.
The Pediatrics Department at Alia International Hospital delivers care for healthy and sick children from early infancy through puberty. Services include history taking, general examination, local examination, investigations, assessment of growth and development, nutritional assessment, vaccination, accident prevention and referral to other specialties. In-patient care includes the admission of children to the Pediatric Ward.
Monitoring and management of sick neonates occurs through the special care baby unit or the neonatal intensive care unit. Newborns should be seen weekly until 1 month of age. Subsequent follow ups should be at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, 15 months and 18 months. Children between 3 to 6 years old should visit the pediatrician periodically and whenever indicated.
Breast milk is the ideal food for newborns. Besides providing the necessary nutrients in the most easily digestible and absorbable form, breast milk contains antibodies and white blood cells that protect the baby against infection. However, in the presence of some illnesses, the mother must consult a physician before administering breastfeeding.
The consultants at Alia International Hospital offer treatment advice, development assessment, and an active immunization program. Parents can consult with the pediatricians on any individual child-care problems for children up to the age of sixteen years. Like all patients, the children receive the very best in care and attention - in a homely atmosphere. Alia International Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the Kuwait that allows mothers to stay overnight in the hospital with their children.