Ask the doctor: Do all babies get colic?

Q:Do all babies get colic an can it be prevented?

A: Not all babies appear to develop what is called colic. The typical colic baby describes the baby with inconsolable crying that does not respond to the usual comfort measures, often occurring at the same time of day, usually evenings. Realize that all babies do have fussy periods. There are babies who have a difficult temperament and require more attention. These babies need more cuddling and patience, and they often respond to different calming techniques such as swings, rocking, swaddling, music, warm baths, and car rides.

-Can it be prevented? Sometimes we can identify a cause for the colic-type behavior and understanding the cause can prevent the colic. Your baby may not be tolerating something in the mother’s diet if she is breastfeeding or may be having a reaction to the formula for the formula-fed babies. If your baby is gassy from swallowing excess air, try burping the baby more frequently. Another issue can include babies who spit up a lot after feeding and if they are very fussy while they eat or after they eat, this may fit with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD. These babies will arch and cry while feeding and will be fussy after feeding. This will need to be discussed with your doctor to discuss measures and possible medications.

-What products do you recommend to reduce colic symptoms? A study from Pediatrics in September 2010 found that treating breastfed colicky infants with Lactobacillus improved symptoms of colic and reduced crying time. Products like USANA’s Probiotic Plus, can be used safely in infants and may be beneficial for colic. If your baby appears to pass a lot of gas, it is also safe to try Simethicone drops which are available over-the-counter.

-How does breastfeeding affect colic? Some babies are sensitive to the foods you eat, or they may be truly allergic. There is a difference in these two problems, although some of the symptoms can look the same. Food sensitivity or intolerance causes gassiness, fussiness, or a change in stools. An example of food intolerance would be the diarrhea, cramping, and bloating that occurs with lactose intolerance. The person lacks the enzyme to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk. Babies can be sensitive to foods mom eats while breastfeeding, like broccoli, cabbage, onions, beans, garlic, chocolate, caffeine or spicy foods. True food allergies may cause symptoms like chronic congestion, hives (an itchy rash that looks like welts), eczema (an itchy rash with dry, scaly patches), blood in the stool, gassiness, fussiness (hence, the colic-like behavior), wheezing, vomiting or diarrhea. Dairy, peanuts, eggs, soy, fish, or shellfish are the food allergies most commonly seen. If you suspect a food allergy, discuss it with your doctor.

Dr. Christine Wood is an Advising Physician for USANA Health Sciences. She is a practicing pediatrician, an expert in nutritional medicine for children and the author of How to get Kids to Eat Great & Love it. She is active in addressing childhood obesity and regularly speaks in the media and with schools, parents and health professionals.


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