Infantile colic is prevalent among newborns and typically defined in terms of repeated bouts of inconsolable crying occurring several days of the week. There appears no universal cause for colic and none of the multifarious behavioural, dietary and pharmaceutical treatments are of benefit in all cases. This study collected data from 154 New Zealand parents with colicky and reflux infants by online questionnaire. Male and female infants were represented approximately equally in the sample, and respondents consisted of parents who breast fed and bottle fed, and considered themselves demand or routine baby feeders. Feeding frequency ranged from 5 to 14 sessions per day, and there was a weak, but significant, relationship between frequency of crying bouts and daily feeds. Almost 90% of newborns had started colicky behaviours by one month of age and although colic is often thought to settle naturally by 3 to 4 months, 24% of children had not resolved by 11 months. Behavioural interventions (example, burping; cranial massage; baby massage), natural products (example, herbal teas) and over the counter remedies (example, gripe water; colic powders) stopped colic completely in very few infants (< 3%), although most treatments improved the situation for some children. Prescription drugs (example, ranitidine; omeprazole) were perceived to be more efficient, with 23% of parents indicating that colicky behaviour had ceased, and 82% indicating these treatments were helpful. One note of concern is that over half of the parents that had given their child prescription medicines had increased the dosage over time. Respondents indicated that antenatal/pregnancy classes did not provide adequate education in topics such as winding babies, colic, reflux, and irregular sleeping patterns in newborns. The results of the survey reinforce a need for pre-natal education about the prevalence of these excessive crying behaviours in infants and which interventions could be attempted immediately.
Key words: Ante-natal education, colic, crying, gastro-oesophageal reflux, feeding, herbal remedies, wind.
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