Infantile colic (IC) is a distressing common childhood condition that affects 5-20% of infants. The condition is characterized by excessive crying, fussing, and irritability during the first five months, often with no obvious cause.
Over the last fifty years, researchers have sought to understand the cause of infantile colic. Some hypotheses include formula intolerance, an immature gastrointestinal tract, food allergies, intestinal cramping, and excessive gas, as well as psychosocial causes, such as maternal anxiety and/or maternal-infant bonding issues. Because the cause of IC has proven elusive, there are few treatment options available to parents.
In an effort to find a solution, many sleep-deprived mothers and fathers seek out complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches, which includes chiropractic care. A 2019 study looked at the available research regarding CAM and infantile colic and found the following approaches showed promise to alleviate symptoms of colic (however, larger studies are needed to confirm these findings):
Fennel is an herb from the carrot family that is a rich source of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. While there is some evidence that a mixture of water and fennel can help alleviate colic symptoms, it’s unclear how fennel benefits the colicky baby.
Probiotics seem to be most effective in breastfed infants with colic while more research is needed regarding babies with IC who are on a formula diet.
One study showed that gentle chiropractic manipulation reduced daily crying time in colicky infants by nearly 1.25 hours a day. When all serious diagnoses have been excluded, it has been suggested that it may be appropriate to utilize a four-to-six treatment trial to determine the effectiveness of gentle chiropractic care for a colicky infant.
While many doctors of chiropractic have received training on using gentle treatment approaches on pediatric patients, some may prefer to refer the care of babies and small children to chiropractors who specialize in caring for this population.