There is probably no practicing pediatrician who has not attempted to treat the so-called "colicky" baby. Changes in the formula, the type of nipple used and the size of the nipple hole, attempts at posturing the baby, giving warm water, barley water, fennel tea, sedatives, antihistamine drugs, and antispasmodics—all of these have been tried with varied degrees of success but none with spectacular success.
It is obvious from the numerous treatments advised that little is really understood as to the true etiology. Is it a reaction to some gastrointestinal allergy; is it due to poor feeding techniques, with subsequent swallowing of air; is it due to a fat or carbohydrate intolerance, or is it related to something more inherent in the physiological structure or emotional environment of the particular child?
It seems evident from the abdominal distention, the flexing of the legs, and the passage of flatus that there is undoubtedly abdominal pain. But what causes colicky babies to develop abdominal pain?
If one observes these infants he will note that in almost every instance the child can be categorized as a "hypertonic" baby. Such are the active, keyed-up infants so sharply differentiated from more relaxed and placid infants—often from birth.
These hypertonic infants react more acutely to their environment, to their unsatisfied needs or to outward stimulation. They react violently to sudden noises, they vomit and regurgitate easily, and they usually sleep shorter periods and less soundly than other infants.
On the assumption that this hypentonicity might be related to the colic, a study was instituted in 1947 in an attempt to determine: 1) if relaxation of the baby would cause a disappearance of the symptoms; 2) if there were unsatisfied emotional or physiological needs of the infant causing the child to react with increased hypertonicity and subsequent colic, and 3) if such needs were satisfied could the symptoms of colic be dispelled without resorting to other means such as formula changes, sedatives, rocking or carrying?
- Copyright © 1956 by the American Academy of Pediatrics