Don’t believe what you read – lies about colic in the tabloids
Recently, my attention was diverted to an article that popped up on my timeline about infant colic. It was aimed directly at new parents because of the emotive strapline asking if your baby cried in pain with a bloated tummy.
I read this article several times and concluded that it was factually incorrect, alarmist and somewhat misleading. So, I thought I’d see if i can put a few minds at rest with a little bit of quality research and some good old fashioned experience as a parent.
Firstly, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there isn’t really a ‘cure’ for Infantile Colic. In the first part of the article it talks about having an answer to the problem of Infant Colic. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence NICE (the people who advise doctors and nurses of professional practice) don’t even advocate a cure or an answer for Colic. They say:
Although there are many studies of interventions for infantile colic, most are of poor methodological quality, making it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of any treatment. No treatment has been clearly shown to be of substantial benefit. [Source: NICE – Management of infantile colic]
This article links Colic with a variety of digestion issues, allergies and intolerances, when this simply isn’t the case. There is no direct link between Infantile Colic and allergies, intolerances or reflux. There is a argument that digestive problems like reflux or an undiagnosed lactose intolerance may carry similar symptoms in the baby crying and having feeding problems but lactose intolerances are rare.
The article refers to several types of Colic. This is a little misleading. Colic, is Colic. Sometimes called Infantile Colic. It’s the same thing and at best it’s a frustrating time for parents and fairly short-lived, stopping as quickly as it arrived. Usually within 6 weeks.
NICE Guidelines for managing Infantile Colic are:
- Parents should know that their baby is well, they are not doing something wrong, the baby is not rejecting them, and that colic is a common phase that will pass within a few months.
- Holding baby through the crying episode may be helpful. However, if there are times when the crying feels intolerable, it is best to put the baby down somewhere safe (such as their cot) and take a few minutes’ ‘time out’.
- Other strategies that may help to soothe a crying infant include:
- Gentle motion (for example pushing the pram or rocking the crib).
- ‘White noise’ (for example from a vacuum cleaner, hairdryer, or running water).
- Bathing the baby in a warm bath.
- Look after your own well-being by:
- Asking family and friends for support — parents need to be able to take a break.
- Resting when the baby is asleep.
- Meeting other parents with babies of the same age.
- Health visitors are also a useful source of advice and support for parents of excessively crying babies.
NICE also talk about treatment in the first instance; being advice and support for parents, and reassurance that infantile colic will resolve itself. The only medical treatments suggested, (if parents feel unable to cope despite advice and reassurance) ,as a secondary measure, are:
- A 1-week trial of simeticone drops (such as Infacol® drops).
- A 1-week trial of lactase drops (such as Colief® Infant Drops). If the baby responds to lactase drops it does not necessarily mean that they are lactose intolerant . Lactose intolerance is a rare condition that affects very few babies with infantile colic.
Perhaps what would have been helpful in this article is information about when things become intolerable? There is an organisation called CRY-SIS who can help: CRY-SIS is a support group for families with excessively crying, sleepless, and demanding children. Their helpline is available every day from 9 am. to 10 pm. Tel: 08451 228 669. The CRY-SIS website (www.cry-sis.org.uk) also contains useful information.
So, I guess I am saying be careful to question everything you read and always seek advice from your health professional before you act on any medical advice given in articles (especially those with sponsorship or adverts for baby products attached to them!)
More information on Drops here.