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Infantile colic is a common condition causing abdominal discomfort in newborns during the first few weeks after birth

Infantile colic is a common condition causing abdominal discomfort in newborns during the first few weeks after birth. Infantile colic, which is a benign condition occurring in the second or third week of their lives. Persistent and inconsolable crying in infants characterizes infantile colic, which affects nearly 20% of newborns and infants. Symptoms reach their peak around 6 weeks and typically resolve by the age of 12 weeks.

Generally, the episodes associated with colic have a clear beginning and end, and they occur during the evening hours. The behavior of a newborn or infant can vary between being happy, sleeping, playing, or eating, and the specific triggers for these behaviors are not known. The cry associated with colic is typically louder and more urgent and is sometimes described as screaming. Less than 10% of infants with excessive and inconsolable crying have an organic cause, and standard soothing techniques are often ineffective. Most infants resolve colic spontaneously, with no lasting effects.

Diagnostic criteria:

  • The symptoms start and stop when the newborn or infant is younger than 5 months.
  • Recurrent and prolonged periods of crying, fussing, or irritability without an apparent cause that caregivers cannot prevent or resolve.
  • No evidence of poor weight gain, fever, or illness.

Colic differs from normal crying in several ways, some of which are mentioned below.

  • Colic episodes typically last for more than 3 hours a day.
  • Each episode has a sudden onset, often occurring in the evening.
  • The crying is intense, loud, and high-pitched.
  • Infants and newborns with colic may exhibit physical symptoms and are difficult to soothe, regardless of the efforts.


Active strategies to help manage infantile colic include:

  • Seeking help when needed.
  • Safely placing the baby in their crib and walking away for a few minutes when frustrated.
  • Discussing feeding technique adjustments with a healthcare provider for both formula-fed and breastfed infants.
  • Soothing the baby with holding or a front carrier.
  • Contemplating the use of pacifiers, car rides, or white noise machines.
  • Speaking with a healthcare provider before administering medications or herbal remedies to address infantile colic, as, currently, no FDA-approved medications exist for treating infantile colic.
  • Offering massage to infants to help alleviate their pain, although this technique has not yet been proven.
  • Trial of feeding a bottle-fed baby vertically, using a curved bottle, burping the baby frequently, or using a bottle with a collapsible bag to diminish the amount of swallowed air

Most studies on simethicone show no effect, with inconsistent results. Although using the anticholinergic medication dicyclomine decreases infantile colic crying time in infants, its potential adverse effects, including respiratory depression, apnea, seizures, and muscular hypotonia, make it unsafe for newborns and infants.

There is stronger evidence regarding the potential positive effects of probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri supplementation among breastfed infants.

Colic is a temporary condition that typically resolves on its own. Although the condition can be challenging for families, no evidence suggests it leads to long-term issues in children.

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