Infant colic - knowing the signs and symptoms

by Lauren Abbott

Intense crying bouts, crying late in the afternoon or early evening for hours, red flushed faces during crying and clenched fists, arched backs and knees pulled to their chests.

All are symptoms of infant colic, a common medical condition affecting one in three newborns, which often begins just a few weeks after birth.

But yet around one in five parents, say the latest research, admit to being unaware of the condition prior to the arrival of their baby.

One in five parents understand colic before their baby's birth
One in five parents understand colic before their baby's birth

The survey was conducted for Colic Awareness Month, which strives to educate and support parents experiencing excessive infant crying, and is held in September each year to coincide with the UK's most popular birthday - September 26.

The research also revealed that parents with babies who cry for continuous bouts will try anything from old wives tales to new technology in an attempt to understand why their babies are so upset and uncomfortable.

From humming and singing, turning the vacuum on, taking them for a drive and even downloading apps to understand their baby's cry - parents adopt a wide variety of methods to try and silence the crying.

And while infant colic is not harmful to the affected baby, the effects of sleepless nights with a colicky baby can be huge with research suggesting that it can affect relationships with partners or other children, while sleep deprivation is also well known for negatively impacting on concentration and mood.

Colic can take its strain on new parents
Colic can take its strain on new parents

GP Dr Patricia McNair said it is not always exactly clear what can cause such sudden, distressed and persistent crying in a newborn, often for around three hours a day, but that tummy problems appear to relate to most incidents of colic.

Feeding, over feeding, under feeding, the type of bacteria in a baby's gut or persistent wind after a feed are all considered, she said, to often be contributing factors.

"It does drive parents to distress because it is so upsetting and persistent" she added.

Al Ferguson, from Tunbridge Wells and is also supporting Colic Awareness Month through work with his parenting support network The Dadsnet.

He explained: "It can cause a lot of distress to parents. Ninety five percent of parents in Kent try humming and singing."

Organisation Cry-sis supports parents with babies who cry excessively or have sleeping problems. To learn more about the support offered, click here.

For more about Colic Awareness Month visit the website.

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