What is Colic Really?

Colic is a fifty-year-old term for an irritable baby and there is not even a real scientific way of diagnosing it. Some doctors will diagnose it if the baby will not be put down to go to sleep, which is ludicrous if you consider the entire medical, psychological, and other factors that could be causing a baby to be sleepless.

Other doctors will employ what is called the White Noise Rule. The diagnosis is confirmed if the baby settles down after listening to some kind of loud droning sound such as a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer. The diagnosis in effect comes after the cure has been established.

It is only lately that both the medical community and the general public understand colic a little better.

Recently, with the creation of pediatric gastroenterology as a specialty in children's medicine, the causes and cures for colic have been better understood. Believe it or not this is a specialty of gastroenterology that only became recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties in 1988. Since then smaller endoscopes that can help diagnose what goes on inside a colicky baby's belly has been developed and so have pediatric versions of common medicines to treat some of the physical symptoms of colic including nausea, gas and diarrhea.

In the last decade or so many cases of colic are thought to be caused by acid reflex. This is the backflow of stomach acid into he esophagus. This is the muscular tube that carries food and drink to the stomach. Using fiber optic endoscopes doctors have been able to detect that acid reflux does exist in colicky babies.

Advancements in infant nutrition have also led to the development of hypoallergenic formulas that became available for common use in the early 1990s. This has revolutionized the care and feeding of the infant with severe allergic disease. Endoscopic technology has also now allowed doctors to 'see' an intestinal allergy on a television screen.

When breastfeeding causes colic, manufacturers are learning to make a formula that benefits babies who can't breast feed. Formulas that were once nothing more than a vehicle for protein, fat and carbohydrate now sometimes contain long-chain fatty acids that have been show to improve visual and cognitive function in infancy and beyond. In essence they become super formulas that are more than a substitute for mother's milk.

Pediatric over-the-counter drugs have also evolved for use in children. There are now safe, effective antacids for children and all kinds of gas drops and gripe waters on the market that are safe, effective and can provide your child with great relief.

The bottom line is that you need to realize that a cranky colicky baby is just that. There is no real definition for colic and even the medical community is not sure what it is. All you can do is try every avenue that you can to try and solve the problem.