About 40 years ago, a paediatrician named Dr. Morris Wessel conducted a breakthrough study on excessively fussy children. The definition he chose to use to describe colicky babies was not considered scientific, but it stuck with physicians. His definition of a colicky infant was a child who 9 , which is now used in most current studies of babies with colic. 10
Infantile colic is most common in the first few weeks to four months of an infant’s life; rarely does it endure past six months of age. Paediatricians often use the “Rule of Three” to diagnose colic.
5 American Pregnancy Association, 2014. Colic. [Online] Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/colic/ [Accessed 15 May 2014].
Symptom / Sign – Frequency
- Cries vigorously for long periods, despite efforts to console* — 100%
- Crying begins around the same time each day or night — 77%
- Symptoms begin after meal times — 70%
- Symptoms begin and end abruptly without warning — 92%
- Symptoms cease after a bowel movement or passing gas — 62%
- Baby spits up frequently** — 46%
- Shows signs of gas such as; abdominal bloating or a hard distended stomach — 74%
- During episodes; baby arches back, pulls knees to chest, clenches fists, flails arms and legs — 90%
- Baby experiences disrupted sleep patterns — 83%
* Inconsolable crying is part of the Wessel definition of colic. Thus, all colicky infants fit these criteria.
** The fact that relatively few reported excessive spit-up, which is quite common in babies anyway, suggests that reflux is not a factor in most cases of colic.
In most cases, colic is the worst pain a baby has experienced. It is usually manifested as an acute abdominal pain with intense spasmodic cramping, but since colicky babies cannot describe exactly what distresses them, it is hard for parents to know the precise cause of their distress.
Infantile colic is most common in the first few weeks to four months of an infant’s life; rarely does it endure past six months of age. Paediatricians often use the “Rule of Three” to diagnose colic”. (Colic Calm, 2013-2014)