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What is Colic?

crying colicky baby
Cholic is just no fun - for
babies...or their parents!

Your baby is precious and perfect in your eyes, except for the fact she cries night and day!

Your pediatrician says it is colic, but what does that really mean?

"The medical community defines colic as anytime a baby cries inconsolably for hours at a time for a minimum of three weeks," explains Dr. Steven Yannicelli, director of science and education for Nutricia North America.

A colicky baby will usually draw up her legs and appear restless and agitated. She is inconsolable, even though she isnt tired, hungry, hot, cold or upset for some other obvious reason.  

Colic affects both boys and girls and usually begins when a baby is between three and six weeks old. Treatment of colic is specific to the cause, which may include overfeeding or emotional distress.  

"The good news is if you have a colicky baby who is not allergic to milk proteins, she likely will outgrow it in about three to four months."

According to Dr. Yannicelli, colic can also be the result of a variety of allergic or gastrointestinal conditions. One possible cause is a milk protein allergy. Babies with this allergy cannot process the complex protein chains in milk-based baby formula and may be allergic to soy, too. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies with a milk protein allergy should not be given soy-based formula either.

Babies with a milk protein allergy may also experience one or more other symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, gas, skin rash, wheezing, low or no weight gain, or an overall failure to thrive.

[Ed. note: milk protein allergy is different from lactose intolerance which is an inability to digest the sugar lactose, which is rare in infants and more common among older kids and adults.]

"A milk protein allergy is treated by either eliminating the milk proteins from the nursing mothers diet, or by replacing the typical milk-based formula with an amino acid-based formula, such as Neocate," says Dr. Yannicelli. This type of formula is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, instead of the partial or complete protein chains found in other formulas that milk allergic infants cannot digest.

An amino acid-based formula does not require a prescription, but infants taking it should be under the care of a physician.

If making changes to your babys diet does not work, she may be experiencing colic without an identifiable cause. Millions of babies each year are colicky and their doctors and parents dont know why. The good news is if you have a colicky baby who is not allergic to milk proteins, she likely will outgrow it in about three to four months. A baby with a milk protein allergy typically does not outgrow the allergy until she is a toddler.

More about baby colic around the Web:

Colic : What is It?

10 Tips for Comforting Colic


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