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Of all the health challenges that seem to plague infants, this is probably the one that causes most upset with parents. Imagine for a moment feeding your child, when all of a sudden he/she begins screaming at the top of their lungs, arms curling in, legs drawing up, with what seems to be agonizing pain. All the common remedies associated with “over-the-fence” and grandmotherly advice seem to be of no avail. Colic and ear infections are the two that tug at mothers’ and fathers’ heartstrings more than any other condition that we see at our office.
Most textbooks describing Colic mention that it usually happens in the evening hours. I have not found that to be the case. I found that it tends to occur at any time of the day and seems to have no rhyme or reason. Colic, it seems, tends to start sometime in infancy, around the first two weeks of life, and can persist for a number of months.
For those who are not familiar with Infantile Colic, and have never had the pleasure of dealing with a child who is so afflicted, you have no idea how devastating it can be on parents’ nerves. Why? It’s characterized by constant crying, screaming, whining, pains in the stomach area, and acute irritability. (This is not cute irritability; this is acute irritability - big difference between the two.) The spells of crying can last for hours, and parents’ nerves are shot at the end of such spells. This type of crying leads to aerophagia, which means the swallowing of air. This then causes distention or enlargement of the bowels, which then creates more pain, which creates more crying, which creates more air being swallowed, which then becomes a cycle – just what you wanted to hear!
Colic is also characterized by passing an exorbitant amount of gas and abdominal distention, which simply means the stomach area is enlarged and bloated. As well, the infant does not appear to be ill, is gaining weight, and has a good appetite. If either of those is absent, then the incessant crying can be caused by a problem different from Colic - I would suggest you consult with me and I’ll be happy to give you lots of advice.
There have been many theories people have used in the past to attempt to explain what Colic really is and why it occurs. Some authorities have blamed lactose intolerance; some felt it is caused by stress of the parents that the baby can perceive, stress of the baby, abnormal gall bladder function, higher levels of intestinal hormones, allergic reactions, digestive hormone instability, etc. None of these seem to be the problem. Many study confirms what many parents and chiropractors have long suspected: Colic is associated with allergy. One study in Finland tracked a number infants for one week, at seven weeks of age, and for one week at 12 weeks of age. The study revealed that 38% of children who showed signs of allergies at 2 years of age were significantly fussier during their seventh week and were more likely to have a colic-type cry during their twelfth week, compared with allergy-free babies. Further trials and research need to be completed to prove this fact, but the evidence is growing.
One of the biggest concerns with a child having Colic is that there is a potential for possible child abuse. Try to imagine a child screaming for hours, non-stop. I find that this will sometimes get on parents’ nerves and on occasion we see a condition which is called “the shaken baby syndrome.” This is a condition whereby the baby is literally shaken by the parents to somehow stop him/her from crying. This only takes place when mom and dad are at their wit’s end. But there is no excuse for this behavior. Shaking an infant can cause irreparable damage to a baby and even death. I am not suggesting that this is a huge problem, but there is potential for abuse of an infant who happens to be colicky. If you do ever feel that you as a parent are close to “losing it,” remember that there is a reason this is taking place. And that there is help.
In my experience in dealing with tons of children and babies, I found that often a vertebral subluxation in the spine affecting the way the nervous system controls bowel functions, is usually the cause of Colic. Any chiropractor involved in seeing children will attest to this fact.
You must understand that the digestive system is essentially a long tube and is made of muscle walls, which are under the direct control of the nervous system. I find that in the case of Colic, a vertebral subluxation will reduce the amount of information flowing from the brain to the large intestine, thereby reducing the normal function and motility of the large intestine. This causes food to “stick around” in the large intestine longer than it should and it tends to produce gas. This gas causes distention of the intestinal wall, causing pain and crying. The cry of the baby is really for help.
Children who are affected by Colic generally show a wonderful response in the hands of a chiropractor. Most often I find results within the first week of care, but the care must be directed at the correction of the subluxation which is at the root of the problem, not simply giving the child mere relief. If mere relief is given only, there is a very high possibility of the subluxation becoming chronic and then causing arthritic degeneration later in life – and you can ask me all about it.
If you think your little one is experiencing colic, please reach out to our clinic! We would love to help you get your happy healthy baby back. Click here to request your appointment!
And as always, if you have any questions, or would information on any health topic, it would be my pleasure to help you!