Big Tummy Troubles Strike Out as the Major Cause of Colic - Woodmam

Food sensitivity and acid reflux can make some babies scream, but do the Big Tummy Troubles (BTT’s) explain most cases of colic or just a small number of ultrafussy babies?

In my experience, five to ten percent of very fussy infants cry due to food sensitivity from cow’s milk or soy, and one to three percent of them cry from the pain of acid reflux. That notwithstanding, Big Tummy Troubles (BTT’s) are not the cause of colic for the majority of fussy infants:

If food allergies caused colic, a mother would only have to change her baby’s formula or her diet and, poof, the crying would stop. But this rarely helps.

If allergies caused colic, formula-fed babies should be especially fussy because they eat hundreds of times more cow’s milk protein than do breast-fed babies. Yet colic is equally common in both groups.

Doctors in Melbourne, Australia, examined twenty-four babies under three months of age who were so irritable they had to be hospitalized. All were checked for acid reflux; only one baby had it.

Most babies with severe reflux have no pain. A review of 219 young babies sent to a hospital clinic because of severe reflux found that thirty-three percent had severe vomiting, thirty percent were not gaining weight, but very few had excessive crying.

The BTT’s also fail to explain five of the ten universal characteristics of colic and colicky babies:

Colicky crying usually starts at two weeks, peaks at six weeks, and ends by three to four months of age. Newborns are continually exposed to spit-up and allergens in their diet. If the BTT’s caused colic, crying would start right away and continue well past three months. (Babies with cow’s milk allergy have problems that last for at least six to twelve months, and serious reflux usually causes heartburn complaints for nine months or more.)

Colic in preemies doesn’t start until two weeks after their due date. A preemie born two months early rarely shows colic before she’s two and a half months old, despite her daily exposure to spit-up and allergenic proteins.

Colic is often much worse in the evening. If the BTT’s caused colic, crying would occur at any time of the day, because babies eat the same food—and spit it up—from morning to night.

Colicky crying often improves with rocking, holding, shhhhing, and tummy pressure. Why would these actions soothe inflamed intestines or heartburn? Indeed, rocking and pressure might even squirt more acid up from the stomach, worsening reflux pain.

There are many cultures around the world where babies never get colic. All babies, regardless of where they live, occasionally spit up and drink breast milk containing tiny samplings from their mommy’s last meal. Yet, despite this, infants in some cultures around the world never suffer from colic.
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