Is Colic Just Baby Heartburn?

Colic has been a mystery for too long. Most folks can list off five or even ten causes of colic. Even specially-focused organizations such as the American Pregnancy Association, provide a laundry list of potential causes for colic including: sensitive temperament, immature nervous system, sensitivity to stimulation and overfeeding or feeding too quickly. Others add to this list depending on what "gripe water" they are trying to sell. These can include gastrointestinal related causes such as gas, reflux, milk protein allergy, food sensitivities and bacterial imbalance in the gut.  In reality all or none of these may be correct for your child but the best course of action might be to start with treatments that are grounded in science and have published scientific support. 

Of the causes listed above, one in particular has a grounding in baby's biology: the reflux theory. Babies digestive system is still growing well into the first year of life. What this means is that certain muscles, including the muscle that keeps stomach contents from coming back up the esophagus, are not quite as strong as they will be as a child gets older. This allows food and acid to find its way back up the esophagus creating pain and discomfort for babies. Combine this with a diet that is mostly, if not completely liquid and a daily schedule that includes significant amounts of time on their back or stomach, and its is easy to see how this reflux might occur. Its no wonder that most "colic" is reported just after feeding or spitting up. 

For colic sufferers this might be a good place to start. Often pediatricians will recommend something for reflux but too often it will be a prescription product that may have short and long term side effects which may be detrimental to your baby. Trying a natural acid reduction solution, such as certain zinc salts, may help bring comfort and relief to your baby. Other options related to digestive system issues might include gas drops or probiotics, although it is unclear at this point whether gas or a bacterial imbalance in the stomach could drive a baby to cry at least 3 hours per day for at least 3 days per week. 

Here is hoping that your baby's colic resolves quickly and safely.


David Kolb