Monday, March 19, 2018

Colic: The Relentlessly Screaming Baby

It’s almost like a parenting rite of passage these days. Nobody knows what causes it, many methods of managing it simply do not work, and new parents are left to fend for themselves as their babies scream desperately for hours.

Colic affects many families, though the jury is out on how common it is since the causes are not well known. Furthermore, each baby is different, and what bothers one may be different from what ails another. Colic is a catch all term for babies who cry without a clear medical indication.

It’s complicated. And miserable.

Let’s talk about possible causes. There are various theories, each one worth investigating.
  • Gastrointestinal distress and gas is a common theory.
  • Overuse of antibiotics in labor is yet another.
  • The use of pain medication in labor is also a possibility.
  • Others try to educate parents about the “4th trimester” - a period of adjustment in a baby for the first 12 weeks after birth.
  • Some say colic is a result of overstimulation at the end of the day since in some cases, babies will predictably cry for several hours at the same time in the evening.

At the end of the day, nobody really knows, and treatments are few and far between. Most are ineffective. What is a parent to do? Parents all over are praising chiropractic care as an effective treatment for infants with colic. (In fact, chiropractic adjustments make sense for infants whether they have colic or not.)

When you look at the dynamics of birth and the effect it has on a baby’s body, adjustments for newborns seem like common sense. Babies are squeezed through the mother’s pelvis which has the possibility of contorting their necks, and their heads are often times pulled on by doctors as they exit the birth canal. This happens with more force during surgical births as well, since a physician’s hands are the only thing pulling a baby out of the uterus. (It should be noted that birth is a very normal and healthy process, and it’s not dangerous. Birth is a major cause of subluxation in a baby’s neck, however, and it is easily corrected.)

Is it reasonable to assume that in the course of all that movement, a baby’s neck and back could become subluxated? Have you ever cranked your neck in an uncomfortable position (when you slept perhaps) and been sore afterward? Certainly a baby can experience the same thing! Furthermore, the holistic effect that even a single subluxation can have has the potential to affect various systems within the body. Whichever system is compromised could be causing a baby to be colicky. It’s reasonable then, to assume that correcting said subluxation can cause a baby to be relieved, ceasing the crying.

The research that exists in favor of chiropractic care for colic is encouraging. A randomized clinical trial was published in 1999 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. In the study, researchers randomly assigned infants diagnosed with colic into two groups. One group received chiropractic care for two weeks and the other group was given dimethicone (the anti-gas medication) for two weeks. The babies who got treatment from a chiropractor showed a 67% decrease in crying while the babies on medication showed a 38% decrease, and researchers concluded that chiropractic care is effective in treating colic.

Regardless of the cause for colic, it’s worth it to try getting your newborn adjusted as soon as possible after birth. Chiropractic care is a safe treatment for babies with colic, so why not give it a try?