Are Infant Colic and Migraine Headache Connected?

March 8, 2016

infant colic and migraine

Any parent who has cared for an infant with colic wouldn’t wish the same on their worst enemy. Most babies have a period of fussiness in the evenings, but some have severe fussiness that doesn’t go away called colic. About one fifth of all babies develop colic at some point between the second and forth week of life and it can last until about six months of age.

Babies with colic scream, flail, pass gas and are inconsolable for at least three hours at a time. And in the household of a baby with colic, babies aren’t the only ones to suffer. Parents’ physical and emotional health can be negatively impacted by lack of sleep and severe frustration. It is also reported that up to five percent of parents of babies with colic may shake their babies out of frustration, possibly causing detrimental, lifelong harm to their babies.

What Causes Infant Colic?

Some sources will tell you that infant colic is caused by gas, food sensitivities and other gastric ailments. This may or may not be true for some babies, as research has shown that gas relief medication and probiotics may no difference in babies with colic. There also isn’t a significant difference in colic between breastfed and formula fed babies.

Headaches and Colic

Headache specialists have recently begun researching migraine as a possible cause for colic. Since children and teens with migraine are almost seven times more likely to have had infant colic than their peers without migraine, it’s possible that periods of extreme fussiness are caused by migraine headache as opposed to the commonly held believe that colic is caused by gastric distress. Researchers believe that the late evening fussy period could be caused by migraine headaches that occur after repeated stimulation throughout the course of the day.

Colic and Migraine

The research on colic and migraines is brand new and really just touching the tip of the iceberg at this point. While this research probably isn’t helpful to parents currently struggling with the lost sleep and frustration of having an infant with colic, it is promising for the health of future migraineurs. If researchers are able to identify migraines in babies, there may eventually be prophylactic treatment that could prevent a lifetime of migraine headache.

References

Anderson, P. (2014, July 3). Infant Colic May Be Early Migraine. Retrieved from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/827825#vp_2

HealthyChildren.org. (2015, November 21). Colic Relief Tips for Parents. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Colic.aspx

 

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