Colic Usually Gone in Three Months
No Long-Term Problems Found for Baby, Mother
"Maternal anxiety has long been believed to be a causal factor in colic, but we did not find this to be the case," Clifford says.
Pediatrics expert Ronald G. Barr, MDCM, tells WebMD he believes colic stems not from a physical problem, but from evolutionary hard-wiring. He adds that if this is the case, the crying episodes during the first few months of life should be considered normal. A professor in child development at Montreal's McGill University, Barr wrote an editorial accompanying the new research.
"We now know that colic is almost certainly not a [digestive] issue, as has long been believed," he tells WebMD. "It is looking more and more like a normal phenomenon that is part of human evolution. And just like every other feature that we have inherited from our ancestors, there is huge individual variability."
Barr says colicky babies may actually have better adapting skills later in life than babies who do not experience colic. Several small studies suggest this may be the case, but they are inconclusive.
He adds that getting the message across to parents that colic is normal and temporary is critical. To make the point he cites statistics showing that 95% of shaken baby syndrome cases involve crying infants.
"Caregivers need to understand that colic will go away and that it is not personal," he says.