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Colicky Babies May Be More 'Emotional' Later

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The researchers determined that the family environments were about the same for all the children. They did discover that the excolicky children seemed to enjoy their meals less, were a little pickier about what they ate, and averaged slightly less sleep per night, but they found these differences to be insignificant. The researchers did note, however, that the group of children that had not suffered from colic had fewer complaints of stomachaches later.

While behavior and temperament, measured by more than 50 questions, were about the same for both groups, the formerly colicky group had two differences that jumped out at the researchers: The children had more temper tantrums, and seemed more emotional. Canivet isn't sure whether this was because of the actual colic or because of how the colicky babies were treated. "Even if the results point towards the existence of an actual trait in the child, could this trait -- of 'negative emotionality' -- not be a result of the mother-infant interaction during the colic period itself, rather than something inherent in the individual child?" Canivet writes.

An earlier study, this time in Finland, found similar behavioral results in formerly colicky children, but clearly linked the behavioral difficulties to the reaction of the family when the baby suffered colic attacks.

"The families of previously colicky infants demonstrated more dissatisfaction with the arrangements of daily family responsibilities and with the amount of both leisure time and shared activities," the researchers, from the department of public health at the University of Turku, wrote after studying more than 1,200 3- year-olds.

Canivet says that while parental worries about excessive crying and infant discomfort are common, children with colic who are raised in a loving environment should develop normally. "Parents should relax and realize their child will suffer no serious long-term effects or complications later in life," Canivet says.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, signs that a baby may have colic include:

  • Piercing and constant crying that can last for hours
  • A red face that may become pale or blue around the mouth if the attack is long or severe
  • A hard and distended belly, with legs drawn up and arms clenched tightly
  • Coldness in the hands and feet

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