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Infantile Colic

What is colic?

Infantile colic was first described as indigestion. While different diagnostic criteria have emerged since then, there has never been complete agreement on what colic is, what causes it, or how to treat it.

The most widely accepted definition of colic today is "unexplainable and uncontrollable crying in babies from 0 to 3 months old, more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for 3 weeks or more, usually in the afternoon and evening hours."

Who suffers from colic?

It has been widely estimated that between 8% and 49% of newborns suffer from colic, or an estimated average of 22% of all newborns who suffer from colic at some time. The condition is regarded as self-limiting, disappearing spontaneously at three months of age; however, studies have shown that many cases of colic will persist until six and even 12 months of age, causing considerable distress and frustration for both children and parents.

What are some of the symptoms of colic?

The most common symptom of colic is "excessive crying" -- more hours of crying and more stretches of crying per day than non-symptomatic children. The crying may also have a higher frequency/pitch than normal babies. Other possible symptoms include motor unrest (flexing of the knees against the abdomen, clenching of the fists, and extension or straightening of the trunk, legs and arms).

What can chiropractic do?

For years, chiropractors have cared for children with colic symptoms, and with apparently good results. In fact, the benefit of chiropractic for managing infantile colic was clearly illustrated in a recent study that compared the short-term effects of spinal manipulation vs. drug intervention (a drug called "dimethicone"). Results not only showed that chiropractic adjustments were effective in reducing colic symptoms, most notably the average hours per day spent crying, but also that the use of drugs was not particularly effective, and certainly less effective than chiropractic care. Your doctor of chiropractic can evaluate your child's condition and recommend the best approach for maximizing health and wellness.

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The More You Know About Colic

The More You Know About Pediatric Health

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More Articles on Infantile Colic


• Wiberg JMM, Nordsteen J, Nilsson N. The short-term effect of spinal manipulation in the treatment of infantile colic: a randomized controlled clinical trial with a blinded observer. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 1999:22(8), pp517-522.
• Barr RG, Rotman A, Yaremko J, et al. The crying of infants with colic: a controlled empirical description. Pediatrics 1992:90, pp14-21.
• Rubin SP, Prendergast M. Infantile colic: incidence and treatment in a Norfolk community. Child Care Health Dev. 1984:10(4), pp219-226.
• Stahlberg MR. Infantile colic: occurrence and risk factors. European Journal of Pediatrics 1984:143, pp108-111.
• Parkin PC, Schwartz CJ, Manuel BA. Randomized controlled trial of three interventions in the management of persistent crying of infancy. Pediatrics 1993:92(2), pp197-201.
• Klougart N, Nilsson N, Jacobsen J. Infantile colic treated by chiropractors: a prospective study of 316 cases. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 1989:12(4), pp281-88.
• Biedermann H. Kinematic imbalance due to suboccipital strain in newborns. Journal of Manual Medicine 1992:6, pp151-56.
• Nilsson N. Infantile colic and chiropractic. European Journal of Chiropractic 1985:33, pp264-65.
• Hewson P, Oberklaid F, Menahem S. Infant colic, distress and crying. Clin Pediatrics 1987:26(2), pp69-76.
• Moesgaard K, Rasmussen LR. Children in Danish chiropractic clinics: a descriptive questionnaire study. European Journal of Chiropractic 1989:37, pp117-124.

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