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Colic (cont.)

Colic Treatment

Infantile colic is a condition that is far from easy to treat. Current conventional treatments fall into one of the following four categories: dietary, physical, behavioral, and pharmacological. With little evidence to favor the first three approaches, there is some evidence that the drug dicyclomine hydrochloride can be effective, although its safety came into question after reports of severe side effects occurring in about 5% of infants, and in some extreme cases it has been linked to infant death

Although some encouraging results exist for fennel extract, mixed herbal tea, and sugar solutions, design flaws and the absence of independent replications preclude practice recommendations. The evidence for probiotic supplements and manual therapies does not indicate an effect. Thus, the notion that any form of complimentary or alternative medicine is effective for infantile colic is currently not supported from the evidence from the included RCTs. Additional research into this prevalent, and often difficult to treat, condition seems warranted.

Many therapies (both traditional and holistic) have been tried to help lessen the symptoms and duration of colic. Many of these anecdotal approaches have not demonstrated success in scientific studies. Some involve the following:

  • Simethicone drops (Maalox, Gas-X, Mylanta, Phazyme) may relieve gas. There are no documented studies indicating that excessive gas is a cause for colic.
  • Ensure a quiet, non-stimulating environment when colic begins. This advice implies that you run the house you would if your child were not in the home. You don't have to "tiptoe around." Conversely, having multiple people pick up and play with your baby may be overwhelming. Many parents find that "white noise" (for example, the vacuum cleaner) is soothing to their colicky child.
  • Change the baby's diet and feeding techniques. For many years, it seemed intuitive that breastfed babies may benefit if the mother avoids dairy products, especially if prone to allergies, or resort to a hypoallergenic diet. Other suggestions include eliminating spicy foods, raw vegetables, and caffeine. Further studies have indicated that children are rarely allergic to human or cow milk protein. Likewise, millions of children are successfully breastfed by mothers in foreign countries in which the diet is filled with highly spiced foods. Children of China and Mexico are not all screaming from intestinal symptoms every night!
  • Try an alternative to routine milk-based formulas. Switching from cow milk protein-based formula to soy protein-based formula is helpful in a small number of infants. However, it is important to remember that approximately two-thirds of infants demonstrated by laboratory studies to have cow milk protein allergy will also have soy protein allergy.
    • Hypoallergenic formulas, such as Nutramigen and Alimentum, are thought to reduce colic symptoms in bottle-fed babies. They are more expensive than other formulas. These formulas may sometimes appear successful since the protein, fat, and carbohydrate molecules are "partially digested" (for example, broken down) and thus easier to digest.

A variety of herbal and complementary medical therapies have been advocated. Herbal teas (chamomile, licorice, fennel, and mint) have strong support in some communities. It is generally believed that small amounts may provide some relief and will not do harm. They should not be used in place of formula or breast milk..

Several years ago, a medication (dicyclomine [Bentyl, Byclomine, Dibent, Di-Spaz, Dilomine]) was shown to decrease the symptoms of colic. However, rare side effects of sedation, cessation of breathing, coma, seizures, and death occurred and the medication is no longer in use for colic.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/22/2014



Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Colic »

Colic is commonly described as a behavioral syndrome characterized by excessive, paroxysmal crying. Colic is most likely to occur in the evenings, and it occurs without any identifiable cause.

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