According to the Hospital for Sick Children (About Kids Health), colic is a term used when a baby cries frequently and intensely and is difficult or impossible to soothe. The diagnosis is a clinical one and often we use the  “rule of three” — crying about three hours per day, at least three times per week, for at least three weeks straight. We aren’t really sure what causes colic. Often these children appear as if they are in pain. Colic, however, does not mean there is anything wrong with the baby. Less than 5 per cent of the time there is an organic cause.

Typically colic resolves on its own. It was thought that colic was related to the gastrointestinal system, but researchers now believe it has more to do with neurological development. We are just as likely to see colic in a breastfed baby as we are in a bottle-fed baby. A new study by neurologists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has shown that mothers who suffer migraine headaches are more than twice as likely to have babies with colic than mothers without a history of migraines. This link would raise the question as to whether or not colic might be an early symptom of migraine. We know that family history is a risk factor for migraine.  If it was, perhaps some of the methods we use in adult migraine, such as reducing stimulation may help just as reducing light and noise can alleviate migraine pain.

In the UCSF study, 154 new mothers were followed, bringing their infants to the paediatrician for routine check-ups at two months, the age when colicky crying typically peaks. Mothers who suffered migraines were found to be two-and-a-half times more likely to have colicky babies. Overall, 29 per cent of infants whose mothers had migraines had colic compared to 11 per cent of babies whose mothers did not have migraines.

The researchers believe that colic may be an early sign of a set of conditions known as childhood periodic syndromes. These syndromes are thought to be related to migraines later in life.  It may be that babies with colic aren’t having migraines per se, but maybe more sensitive to stimuli in their environment just as are migraine sufferers. There is a vast array of new stimuli after birth compared to being in the womb. These researchers plan to follow these babies forward to see if they become migraine sufferers later in life.

Rate this post