A Real Reason to Scream - Could Colic be Infant Migraine?

You haven’t heard much from me lately (as I've been flat out with the rest of my life), but I just read a new development that was so exciting and significant, that I wanted to share it with you straight away!  As you’re probably aware, one of the big challenges with colic is that doctors don’t really know for certain what it is and the leading experts disagree about what causes it.  See my earlier article “So What IS Colic Anyway?” for more info about this.  

However, an interesting new theory is emerging, suggesting that infant colic may be an “age-sensitive” form of migraine. 

Dr Amy Gelfand, MD, who is a child neurologist and an Assistant Professor in the department of Clinical Neurology and Pediatrics, at the University of California, has led an analysis of studies that examined the association between infant colic and migraine (and included a secondardy analysis of studies that collected data on infant colic and migraine but had a different primary research question). 

Interestingly, from the data Dr Gelfand and her colleagues reviewed they found that infants whose moms had migraine were 2.6 times more likely to have colic.  Another study found that children or adolescents with migraine were 6.6 times more likely to have had infantile colic than those without migraine.

Now, its still a theory of course and one of many theories about the cause of colic, but here’s what I REALLY want you to take away from this.  If you’re at home, struggling with a baby who won’t stop crying, you are not alone.  And your baby’s problem is VERY real.  We may not yet know for sure what causes it, but there are researchers all around the world who are working to figure it out.  That includes child neurologists like Dr Gelfand and her colleagues.

So don’t ever fall victim to those dreadful colic myths: “colic is not real” or "your baby is just difficult/fussy”.  Hang in there, the problem is real and you are going to get through it together. 

So what do you do in the meantime?   The team that are looking into this study recommend safe and relatively inexpensive means of trying to settle their baby, including giving acetaminophen (Tylenol), reducing stimulation and holding your baby.  Having been through this myself, I know that won’t sound like much help, so do feel free to check out all the other options in my book, including the ‘baby-whisperer’ settling techniques and other options like Wilby’s colic mix.  If you’re in Australia, be aware that doctors here tend to suggest Baby Panadol, rather than Tyelnol, but as always please seek your doctor’s advice before giving medication to your baby.  

Take care out there,

Jen