Intestinal colic in newborn babies: incidence and methods of proceeding applied by parents

Anna Lewandowska, Barbara Zych


Introduction: Intestinal colic is one of the more frequent complaints that a general practitioner and paediatrician deal with in their work. 10-40% of babies formula fed and 10-20% breast fed are stricken by this complaint. A colic attack appears suddenly and very quickly causes energetic, squeaky cry or even scream. Colic attacks last for a few minutes and appear every 2-3 hours usually in the evenings. Specialist literature provides numerous definitions of intestinal colic. The concept was introduced for the first time to paediatric textbooks over 250 years ago. One of the most accurate definitions describe colic as recurring attacks of intensive cry and anxiety lasting for more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week within 3 weeks. Care of a baby suffering from an intestinal colic causes numerous problems and anxiety among parents, therefore knowledge of effective methods to combat this complaint is a challenge for contemporary neonatology and paediatrics.

The aim of the study is to estimate the incidence of intestinal colic in newborn babies formula and breast fed as well as to assess methods of proceeding applied by parents and analyze their effectiveness.

Material and methods: The research involved 100 newborn babies breast fed and 100 formula fed, and their parents. The research method applied in the study was a diagnostic survey conducted by use of a questionnaire method.

Results: Among examined newborn babies that were breast fed, 43% have experienced intestinal colic, while among those formula fed 30% have suffered from it. The study involved 44% new born female babies and 56% male babies. 52% of mothers were 30-34 years old, 30% 35-59 years old, and 17% 25-59 years old. When it comes to families, the most numerous was a group in good financial situation (60%). The second numerous group was that in average financial situation (40%). All the respondents claimed that they had the knowledge on intestinal colic and the main source of knowledge was Internet (83.6%). The most frequent methods applied by the parents to combat colic are: carrying the baby (78%), belly massage (72%), and bath (63%).

Conclusions: The most frequent methods to combat intestinal colic are behavioural methods and pharmacotherapy that have proved to be equally effective. According to mothers who breast feed their babies, diet was the least effective method to combat the colic.


newborn baby, intestinal colic

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