Possible Cause of Colic Identified

September 25th, 2009 | Sources: BurrillReport, Pediatrics


wtfFor legions parents that have endured far too many sleepless nights trying to console colicky babies, relief might be on the way.

Scientists think they’ve identified a bacterium that causes the nerve-racking condition, in which otherwise healthy babies scream for hours.

Colic affects nearly 15% of all infants in the US.

Pediatrics professor J. Marc Rhoads and colleagues at the University of Texas are proposing that Klebsiella is the culprit. The gram-negative bacterium resides in the gastrointestinal tracts of humans of every age, but in colicky babies only, the bug seems to trigger an inflammatory reaction in the intestines.

In non-colicky babies, Klebsiella causes no such disturbance.

Previous theories held that babies receiving cow’s milk were more likely to suffer from colic, but research on the matter has failed to support that claim. The colicky babies in Rhoads’ study for example, included some who were fed breast milk and some who received formula.

Rhoads speculated that colic might actually be a precursor to other gastrointestinal maladies ranging from  irritable bowel syndrome to Celiac disease. “Inflammation in the gut of colicky infants closely compared to levels in patients with inflammatory bowel disease,” he told BurrillReport.

The write-up appears in Pediatrics.

Typicially, pediatricians prescribe hypoallergenic formulas for the treatment of colic, but as harried parents can attest, the approach is often ineffective.

whatsallthefussabout?Rhoads believes his teams’ discovery might eventually save lives.

“Colic can be a dangerous situation for a baby. The parent’s frustration over the crying can lead to maternal frustration, post-partum depression, and even thoughts of harming the baby,” he told Burrill.

“More than half of infanticides fall into the age category of colic. We may be able to prevent deaths if we can find a treatment.”


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