Migraines could be to blame for colic

By • Published: July 11th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Colic. The word alone is enough to strike sleeplessness and ear-ringing in the hearts of moms and dads. It’s traditionally been tied to an upset stomach, but a new study shows it could have something to do with migraines in little ones.

Colic is a condition in which babies cry for more than three hours a day, at least three times a week. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it affects as many as one in five babies. The exact cause of infant colic is unknown, but it usually improves by 12 weeks of age.

When colicky babies cry, they tend to draw their knees to their chest and their abdomens may appear swollen. So fussy tummies have traditionally been to blame for colic, but treatments for soothing intestinal distress in little ones aren’t very effective. Now, researchers say another part of the body might be to blame.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that children with migraines were seven times more likely to have been colicky babies than not.

In fact, almost 73 percent of children who suffered migraines also had colic as babies, while only 26 percent of those without migraine reported colic. There might also be a link between tension headaches and colic, but that notion hasn’t been well-researched.

So what’s causing all the fuss? Scientists think nerve terminals in the brain and in the stomach might be oversensitive, leading to pain in both these areas. Or it could have something to do with lack of sleep, which will make anyone grumpy. But when babies’ circadian rhythms are disrupted, it affects melatonin that is made in the brain and digestive tract, causing colic symptoms.

But parents aren’t helpless. Since sleep is already key to babies’ health, ensure they don’t get too much light at night. Avoid stimulating sounds and sights and don’t bounce them around too much. Baby could just be colic-free.