When my son was about four weeks old he was diagnosed with colic. My response to the emergency room doctor, “I kind of figured that. What do we do?” She recommended we try the five Ss (which we had done almost 24/7 since he was born), but in the kindest way possible said other than that all we could do was wait for him to outgrow it in another two to four months. While I had been a weeping mess for weeks, blaming myself for being unable to handle a newborn, at that moment I knew the three of us wouldn’t survive much longer like this. And I wasn’t about to let that happen.
Having a background in public health, and being a data nerd, I jumped into the peer-reviewed literature and discovered a growing body of research that recognized colic as a symptom and not a disease. I created a daily spreadsheet and logged everything that happened in our house. What I ate, when I ate it, when my son ate, how much, diaper changes, when he slept (ha!), when there were breaks in his crying, and how long. It all went into the spreadsheet.
A week later after a particularly bad day my husband and I made an urgent appointment with our pediatrician. Instead, we had to see the on-call physician and that happened to be a stroke of sheer luck. She did a head-to-toe examination of our son, looked through his medical records and my spreadsheet (admittedly she heavily rolled her eyes) and said, “I think what we have here is a severe case of acid reflux.” She prescribed a strong pediatric proton-pump inhibitor and said that if it didn’t work within 48 hours, to come back and she would run some tests.
Twelve hours after his first dose, our son slept for five hours straight (!). When he woke up he was a different baby, the screaming all but gone and refreshingly happy. I often share our story with parents struggling with colic as an example of colic as a symptom and not a disease, so I was glad to see Dr. Chad Hayes’ piece in the Washington Post yesterday advocating for colic to be treated the same way. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it below, and if you have or had a colicky baby take heed in what he says in his message.[embed_articles url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-is-your-baby-crying-is-it-really-colic–or-not/2015/03/30/0f1b280c-c2c6-11e4-9271-610273846239_story.html]
Chad Hayes. Why is your baby crying? Is it really colic – or not? The Washington Post. March 30, 2015. Retrieved 3.31.15.
Dr. Harvey Karm, MD. ‘5 S’s System’ May Help Colic Symptoms. The Happiest Baby on the Block. Retrieved 3.31.15
Roberts, DM., Ostapchuk, M. and O’Brien, JG. Infantile Colic. Journal of the American Family Physician. pp 735-40, August 2004. Retrieved 3.31.15.