What is colic? References about the causes of infantile colic

Compiled by Gwen Dewar (last updated 12/2013)

Here is a list of references about infantile colic and inconsolable crying. I cite them in my articles


I've organized the references by subtopic. If you can't find a reference in the subtopic sections, try looking in the "General references about colic" below.


Infantile colic research: Specific causes

The benefits of increased physical contact and parental responsiveness for normal (non-colicky) babies

Anisfeld E, Casper V, Nozyce M, and Cunningham N. 1990. Does infant carrying promote attachment? An experimental study of the effects of increased physical contact on the development of attachment. Child Dev. 61(5):1617-27.

Barr RG, Konner M, Bakeman R and Adamson L. 1991a. Crying in !Kung San infants: A test of the cultural specificity hypothesis. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 33: 601-610.

Hunziker UA and Barr RG. 1986. Increased carrying reduces infant crying: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 77(5):641-8.

Evidence that increased carrying of infants doesn't prevent or eliminate colic

Barr RG, McMullan SJ, Spiess H, Leduc DG, Yaremko J, Barfield R, Francoeur TE, Hunziker UA. 1991b. Carrying as colic "therapy": a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 87(5):623-30.

St James-Roberts I, Hurry J, Bowyer J, Barr RG. 1995. Supplementary carrying compared with advice to increase responsive parenting as interventions to prevent persistent infant crying. Pediatrics. 95(3):381-8.

St James-Roberts I, Alvarez M, Csipke E, Abramsky T, Goodwin J, and Sorgenfrei E. 2006. Infant crying and sleeping in London, Copenhagen and when parents adopt a "proximal" form of care. Pediatrics. 117(6):e1146-55

Cross-cultural evidence for the existence of colic

Akman I, Kusçu K, Ozdemir N, Yurdakul Z, Solakoglu M, Orhan L, Karabekiroglu A, Ozek E. 2006. Mothers' postpartum psychological adjustment and infantile colic. Arch Dis Child. 91(5):417-9. (Turkey).

Chen IL and Chwo MJ. 2006. [The problems and management of excessive crying and fussing in infants] Hu Li Za Zhi. 53(4):17-23. In Chinese.

Garg P. 2004. Infantile colic--unfolded. Indian J Pediatr. 71(10):903-6.

Ismail J, Nallasamy K. 2017. Crying Infant. Indian J Pediatr. 84(10):777-781.

Leung AK and Lemay JF. 2004. Infantile colic: A review. J R Soc Health 124: 162-166.

Oshikoya KA, Senbanjo IO, Njokanma OF. 2009. Self-medication for infants with colic in Lagos, Nigeria. BMC Pediatrics 9: 9-16.

Saavedra MA, da Costa JS, Garcias G, Horta BL, Tomasi E, Mendonça R. 2003. [Infantile colic incidence and associated risk factors: a cohort study] J Pediatr (Rio J). 79(2):115-22. In Portuguese.

Santos IS, Matijasevich A, Capilheira MF, Anselmi L, Barros FC. 2015. Excessive crying at 3 months of age and behavioural problems at 4 years age: a prospective cohort study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 69(7):654-9.

Smarius LJ, Strieder TG, Loomans EM, Doreleijers TA, Vrijkotte TG, Gemke RJ, van Eijsden M. 2017. Excessive infant crying doubles the risk of mood and behavioral problems at age 5: evidence for mediation by maternal characteristics. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 26(3):293-302.

Talachian E, Bidari A, Rezaie MH. 2008. Incidence and risk factors for infantile colic in Iranian infants. World J Gastroenterol. 14(29):4662-6.

Evidence that colicky babies have a distinctive mix of intestinal bacteria 

Dubois NE and Gregory KE. 2016. Characterizing the Intestinal Microbiome in Infantile Colic: Findings Based on an Integrative Review of the Literature. Biol Res Nurs. 18(3):307-15.

Pham VT, Lacroix C, Braegger CP, Chassard C. 2017. Lactate-utilizing community is associated with gut microbiota dysbiosis in colicky infants. Sci Rep. 7(1):11176.

Rhoads JM, Fatheree NY, Norori J, Liu Y, Lucke JF, Tyson JE, Ferris MJ. 2009. Altered fecal microflora and increased fecal calprotectin in infants with colic. J Pediatr. 155(6):823-828.e1.

Savino F, Quartieri A, De Marco A, Garro M, Amaretti A, Raimondi S, Simone M, Rossi M. 2017. Comparison of formula-fed infants with and without colic revealed significant differences in total bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae and faecal ammonia. Acta Paediatr. 106(4):573-578.

Pärtty A and Kalliomäki M. 2017. Infant colic is still a mysterious disorder of the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Acta Paediatr. 106(4):528-529.

de Weerth C, Fuentes S, Puylaert P, de Vos WM. 2013. Intestinal microbiota of infants with colic: development and specific signatures. Pediatrics. 131(2):e550-8.

Diseases and disorders that may cause excessive, inconsolable crying

Ali AM. 2012. Helicobacter pylori and infantile colic. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 166(7):648-50.

Anabrees J, Indrio F, Paes B, AlFaleh K. 2013. Probiotics for infantile colic: a systematic review. BMC Pediatr. 13:186.

Barlow CF. 1994. Migraine in the infant and toddler. J. Child Neurol. 9: 92-94.

Bartrop RW and Hull D. 1973. Transient lactose intolerance in infancy. Archives of diseases in childhood. 48: 963-966.

Bhatia J and Parish A. 2009. GERD or not GERD: the fussy infant. J Perinatol. 29 Suppl 2:S7-11.

Buckley M. 2000. Some new and important clues to the causes of colic. Br J Community Nurs. 5(9): 462, 464-465.

Critch J. 2011. Infantile colic: Is there a role for dietary interventions? Paediatr Child Health. 16(1):47-9.

Duro D, Rising R, Cedillo M, Lifshitz F. 2002. Association between infantile colic and carbohydrate malabsorption from fruit juices in infancy. Pediatrics. 109(5):797-805.

Forsyth BWC. 1989. Colic and the effect of changing formulas: a double-bind, multiple crossover study. Journal of Pediatrics 115: 521-526.

Gelfand AA, Goadsby PJ, Allen IE. 2015. The relationship between migraine and infant colic: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Cephalalgia. 35(1):63-72.

Gelfand AA, Thomas KC, and Goadsby PJ. 2012. Before the headache: infant colic as an early life expression of migraine. Neurology 79(13):1392-6.

Jan MMS and Al-Buhairi AR. 2001. Is infantile colic a migraine-related phenomenon? Clinical Pediatrics 40: 295-297.

Heubi J, Karasov R, Reisinger K, et al. Randomized multicenter trial documenting the efficacy and safety of a lactose-free and a lactose-containing formula for term infants. J Am Diet Assoc. 100 :212 –217.

Heyman MB. 2006. Lactose Intolerance in Infants, Children, and Adolescents Pediatrics 118(3): 1279-1286.

Kanabar D, Randhawa M, Clayton P. Improvement of symptoms in infant colic following reduction of lactose load with lactase. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2001;14(5):359–363.

Lindberg T. 1999. Infantile colic and small intestinal function: a nutritional problem? Acta Paediatr Suppl. 88(430):58-60.

Lothe L, Lindberg T, and Jakobsson I. 1982. Cow's milk formula as a cause of infantile colic: a double-blind study. Pediatrics. 70(1):7-10.

Lothe L, Ivarson A, Lindberg T. 1987. Motilin, vasoactive intestinal peptide and gastrin in infantile colic. Act Paediatr. Scand. 76: 316-320.

Lothe LI, Ivarson S-A, Ekman R, Lindberg T. 1990. Motilin and infantile colic. Acta Paediatr Scand 79: 410-416.

Lucassen PL, Assendelft WJ, Gubbels JW, van Eijk JT, van Geldrop WJ, Neven AK. 1998. Effectiveness of treatments for infantile colic: systematic review. BMJ. 316(7144):1563-9.

Nocerino R, Pezzella V, Cosenza L, Amoroso A, Di Scala C, Amato F, Iacono G, Canani RB. 2015. The controversial role of food allergy in infantile colic: evidence and clinical management. Nutrients.7(3):2015-25.

Qubty W and Gelfand AA. 2016. The Link Between Infantile Colic and Migraine. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 20(5):31.

Romanello S, Spiri D, Marcuzzi E, Zanin A, Boizeau P, Riviere S, Vizeneux A, Moretti R, Carbajal R, Mercier JC, Wood C, Zuccotti GV, Crichiutti G, Alberti C, Titomanlio L. 2013. Association between childhood migraine and history of infantile colic. JAMA. 309(15):1607-12.

Savino F, Castagno E, Bretto R, Brondello C, Palumeri E, Oggero R. 2005. A prospective 10-year study on children who had severe infantile colic. Acta Paediatr Suppl. 94(449):129-32.

Savino F, Cordisco L, Tarasco V, Calabrese R, Palumeri E, and Matteuzzi D. 2009. Molecular identification of coliform bacteria from colicky breastfed infants. Acta Paediatr. [Epub ahead of print].

Savino F, Grassino EC, Guidi C, Oggero R, Silvestro L, and Miniero R. 2006. Ghrelin and motilin concentration in colicky infants. Acta Paediatr. 95(6):738-41.

Savino F, Pelle E, Palumeri E, Oggero R, and Miniero R. 2007. Lactobacillus reuteri (American Type Culture Collection Strain 55730) versus simethicone in the treatment of infantile colic: a prospective randomized study. Pediatrics. 119(1):e124-30.

Sillanpää M and Saarinen M. 2015. Infantile colic associated with childhood migraine: A prospective cohort study. Cephalalgia. 35(14):1246-51.

Szajewska H, Gyrczuk E, Horvath A. 2012. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 for the Management of Infantile Colic in Breastfed Infants: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Pediatr. 2012 Sep 14. pii: S0022-3476(12)00920-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.08.004. [Epub ahead of print]

Weissbluth L and Weissbluth M. 1992. Infant colic: the effect of serotonin and melatonin circadian rhythms on the intestinal smooth muscle. Med Hypotheses. 39(2):164-7.

Evidence that colic has a basis in differences in brain chemistry

Barr RG, Young SN, Wright JH, Gravel R, and Alkawaf R. 1999. Differential calming responses to sucrose taste in crying infants with and without colic. Pediatrics. 103(5):e68.

Barr RG, Rotman A, Yaremko J, Leduc D and Francoear TE. 1992. The crying of infants with colic: A controlled empirical description. Pediatrics 90: 14-21.Barr 1999

Lucassen PL, Assendelft WJ, Gubbels JW, van Eijk JT, van Geldrop WJ, Neven AK. 1998. Effectiveness of treatments for infantile colic: systematic review. BMJ. 316(7144):1563-9.

St James-Roberts I, Goodwin J, Peter B, Adams D, and Hunt S. 2003. Individual differences in responsivity to a neurobehavioural examination predict crying patterns of 1-week-old infants at home Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 45(6):400-407.

Infantile colic and parental distress

Akman I, Kusçu K, Ozdemir N, Yurdakul Z, Solakoglu M, Orhan L, Karabekiroglu A, Ozek E. 2006. Mothers' postpartum psychological adjustment and infantile colic. Arch Dis Child. 91(5):417-9.

Alexander CP, Zhu J, Paul IM, Kjerulff KH. 2017. Fathers make a difference: positive relationships with mother and baby in relation to infant colic. Child Care Health Dev. 2017 43(5):687-696.

Barr RG. 2014. Crying as a trigger for abusive head trauma: a key to prevention. Pediatr Radiol. 44 Suppl 4:S559-64.

Brand S, Furlano R, Sidler M, Schulz J, Holsboer-Trachsler E. 2014. Associations between Infants' Crying, Sleep and Cortisol Secretion and Mother's Sleep and Well-Being. Neuropsychobiology. 69(1):39-51.

Cook F, Giallo R, Petrovic Z, Coe A, Seymour M, Cann W, Hiscock H. 2017. Depression and anger in fathers of unsettled infants: A community cohort study. J Paediatr Child Health. 53(2):131-135.

Lopes NR and Williams LC. 2016. Pediatric Abusive Head Trauma Prevention Initiatives: A Literature Review. Trauma Violence Abuse. 2016 Nov 6. pii: 1524838016675479. [Epub ahead of print]

Pauli-Pott U, Becker K, Mertesacker T, and Beckmann D. 2000. Infants with “Colic"—mothers’ perspectives on the crying problem. J Psychosom Res. 48(2):125–132.

Petzoldt J, Wittchen HU, Einsle F, Martini J. 2016. Maternal anxiety versus depressive disorders: specific relations to infants' crying, feeding and sleeping problems. Child Care Health Dev. 42(2):231-45.

Radesky JS, Zuckerman B, Silverstein M, Rivara FP, Barr M, Taylor JA, Lengua LJ, and Barr RG. 2013. Inconsolable Infant Crying and Maternal Postpartum Depressive Symptoms. Pediatrics. 131(6):e1857-64

Räihä H, Lehtonen L, Huhtala V, Saleva K, Korvenranta H. 2002. Excessively crying infant in the family: mother-infant, father-infant and mother-father interaction. Child Care Health Dev. 2002 Sep;28(5):419-29.


General references about infantile colic

Akman I, Kusçu K, Ozdemir N, Yurdakul Z, Solakoglu M, Orhan L, Karabekiroglu A, Ozek E. 2006. Mothers' postpartum psychological adjustment and infantile colic. Arch Dis Child. 91(5):417-9. 

Alexander CP, Zhu J, Paul IM, Kjerulff KH. 2017. Fathers make a difference: positive relationships with mother and baby in relation to infant colic. Child Care Health Dev. 2017 43(5):687-696.

Barr RG. 2014. Crying as a trigger for abusive head trauma: a key to prevention. Pediatr Radiol. 44 Suppl 4:S559-64.

Barr RG. 1998. Colic and crying syndromes in infants. Pediatrics 102: 1282-1286.

Barr RG. 1990. The normal crying curve: What do we really know? Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 32: 356-362.

Barr RG, Trent RB, and Cross J. 2006. Age-related incidence curve of hospitalized Shaken Baby Syndrome cases: convergent evidence for crying as a trigger to shaking. Child Abuse Negl. 30(1):7-16.

Barr RG, Konner M, Bakeman R and Adamson L. 1991a. Crying in !Kung San infants: A test of the cultural specificity hypothesis. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 33: 601-610.

Barr RG, McMullan SJ, Spiess H, Leduc DG, Yaremko J, Barfield R, Francoeur TE, Hunziker UA. 1991b. Carrying as colic "therapy": a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 87(5):623-30.

Barr RG, Rotman A, Yaremko J, Leduc D and Francoear TE. 1992. The crying of infants with colic: A controlled empirical description. Pediatrics 90: 14-21.

Barr RG, Young SN, Wright JH, Gravel R and Alkawaf R. 1995. Differential calming responses to sucrose taste in crying infants with and without colic. Pediatrics 103(5): e68.

Biagioli E, Tarasco V, Lingua C, Moja L, Savino F. 2016. Pain-relieving agents for infantile colic. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Sep 16;9:CD009999. [Epub ahead of print]

Brand S, Furlano R, Sidler M, Schulz J, Holsboer-Trachsler E. 2014. Associations between Infants' Crying, Sleep and Cortisol Secretion and Mother's Sleep and Well-Being. Neuropsychobiology. 69(1):39-51.

Buckley M. 2000. Some new and important clues to the causes of colic. Br J Community Nurs. 5(9): 462, 464-465.

Chen IL and Chwo MJ. 2006. [The problems and management of excessive crying and fussing in infants] Hu Li Za Zhi. 53(4):17-23. In Chinese.

Cohen EA, Hadash A, Shehadeh N, Pillar G. 2012. Breastfeeding may improve nocturnal sleep and reduce infantile colic: potential role of breast milk melatonin. Eur J Pediatr  171:729–32

Cook F, Giallo R, Petrovic Z, Coe A, Seymour M, Cann W, Hiscock H. 2017. Depression and anger in fathers of unsettled infants: A community cohort study. J Paediatr Child Health. 53(2):131-135.

Critch J. 2011. Infantile colic: Is there a role for dietary interventions? Paediatr Child Health. 16(1):47-9.

Dubois NE and Gregory KE. 2016. Characterizing the Intestinal Microbiome in Infantile Colic: Findings Based on an Integrative Review of the Literature. Biol Res Nurs. 18(3):307-15.

Forsyth BWC. 1989. Colic and the effect of changing formulas: a double-bind, multiple crossover study. Journal of Pediatrics 115: 521-526.

Hill DJ, Hudson IL, Sheffield LJ, Shelton MJ, Menahem S, and Hosking CS. 1995. A low allergen diet is a significant intervention in infantile colic: Results of a community-based study. J. Allergy Clin Immunol. 96: 886-892.

Illingworth RS. 1954. Three-months' colic. Arch Dis Child. 29(145):165-74.

Leuchter HVR, Darque A, and Hüppi PS. 2013. Brain maturation, early sensory processing, and infant colic Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.57: S18-S25

Lindberg T. 1999. Infantile colic and small intestinal function: a nutritional problem? Acta Paediatr Suppl. 88(430):58-60.

Lothe L, Lindberg T, and Jakobsson I. 1982. Cow's milk formula as a cause of infantile colic: a double-blind study. Pediatrics. 70(1):7-10.

Lothe L, Ivarson A, Lindberg T. 1987. Motilin, vasoactive intestinal peptide and gastrin in infantile colic. Act Paediatr. Scand. 76: 316-320.

Lothe LI, Ivarson S-A, Ekman R, Lindberg T. 1990. Motilin and infantile colic. Acta Paediatr Scand 79: 410-416.

Lucassen PL, Assendelft WJ, Gubbels JW, van Eijk JT, van Geldrop WJ, Neven AK. 1998. Effectiveness of treatments for infantile colic: systematic review. BMJ. 316(7144):1563-9.

Lucassen PLBJ, Willem JJ, Gubbels JW, van Eijk JThM, and Douwes AC. 2000. Infantile colic: Crying time reduction with a whey hydrolysate: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Pediatrics 106(6): 1349-1354.

Maxted AE, Dickstein S, Miller-Loncar C, High P, Spritz B, Liu J, and Lester BM. 2005. Infant colic and maternal depression. Infant Mental Health Journal 26: 56-68.

Murray L and Cooper PJ (eds). 1997. Postpartum depression and child development. NY: Guilford Press.

Pärtty A and Kalliomäki M. 2017. Infant colic is still a mysterious disorder of the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Acta Paediatr. 106(4):528-529.

Pärtty A, Kalliomäki M, Salminen S, Isolauri E. 2017. Infantile Colic Is Associated With Low-grade Systemic Inflammation. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 64(5):691-695.

Pauli-Pott U, Becker K, Mertesacker T, Beckmann D. 2000. Infants with “Colic"—mothers’ perspectives on the crying problem. J Psychosom Res. 48(2):125–132.

Rautava P, Helenius H, Lehtonen L. 1993. Psychosocial predisposing factors for infantile colic. BMJ. 307(6904):600-4.

Rhoads JM, Fatheree NY, Norori J, Liu Y, Lucke JF, Tyson JE, and Ferris MJ. 2009. Altered Fecal Microflora and Increased Fecal Calprotectin in Infants with Colic. J Pediatr.J Pediatr. 155(6):823-828.

Romanello S, Spiri D, Marcuzzi E, Zanin A, Boizeau P, Riviere S, Vizeneux A, Moretti R, Carbajal R, Mercier JC, Wood C, Zuccotti GV, Crichiutti G, Alberti C, Titomanlio L. 2013. Association between childhood migraine and history of infantile colic. JAMA. 309(15):1607-12.

Savino F, Castagno E, Bretto R, Brondello C, Palumeri E, Oggero R. 2005. A prospective 10-year study on children who had severe infantile colic. Acta Paediatr Suppl. 94(449):129-32.

Savino F, Cordisco L, Tarasco V, Calabrese R, Palumeri E, and Matteuzzi D. 2009. Molecular identification of coliform bacteria from colicky breastfed infants. Acta Paediatr. [Epub ahead of print].

Savino F, Grassino EC, Guidi C, Oggero R, Silvestro L, and Miniero R. 2006. Ghrelin and motilin concentration in colicky infants. Acta Paediatr. 95(6):738-41.

Savino F, Pelle E, Palumeri E, Oggero R, and Miniero R. 2007. Lactobacillus reuteri (American Type Culture Collection Strain 55730) versus simethicone in the treatment of infantile colic: a prospective randomized study. Pediatrics. 119(1):e124-30

Savino F, Quartieri A, De Marco A, Garro M, Amaretti A, Raimondi S, Simone M, Rossi M. 2017. Comparison of formula-fed infants with and without colic revealed significant differences in total bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae and faecal ammonia. Acta Paediatr. 106(4):573-578.

Sijmen AR, Brugman E and Hiraing RA. 2001. Excessive infant crying: The impact of varying definitions. Pediatrics 108: 893-897.

Sillanpää M and Saarinen M. 2015. Infantile colic associated with childhood migraine: A prospective cohort study. Cephalalgia. 35(14):1246-51.

Smarius LJ, Strieder TG, Loomans EM, Doreleijers TA, Vrijkotte TG, Gemke RJ, van Eijsden M. 2017. Excessive infant crying doubles the risk of mood and behavioral problems at age 5: evidence for mediation by maternal characteristics. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 26(3):293-302.

Soltis J. 2004. The signal functions of early infant crying. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27:443-490.

St James-Roberts I, Goodwin J, Peter B, Adams D, and Hunt S. 2003. Individual differences in responsivity to a neurobehavioural examination predict crying patterns of 1-week-old infants at home Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 45(6):400-407.

St James-Roberts I, Alvarez M, Csipke E, Abramsky T, Goodwin J, and Sorgenfrei E. 2006. Infant crying and sleeping in London, Copenhagen and when parents adopt a "proximal" form of care. Pediatrics. 117(6):e1146-55.

St James-Roberts I, Hurry J, Bowyer J, and Barr RG. 1995. Supplementary carrying compared with advice to increase responsive parenting as interventions to prevent persistent infant crying. Pediatrics. 95(3):381-8.

Taylor WC. 1957. A study of infantile colic. Can Med Assoc J. 76(6): 458–461.

Vandenplas Y and Alarcon P. 2015. Updated algorithms for managing frequent gastro-intestinal symptoms in infants. Benef Microbes. 6(2):199-208

Vik T, Grote V, Escribano J, Socha J, Verduci E, Fritsch M, Carlier C, von Kries R, Koletzko B and the European Childhood Obesity Trial Study Group. 2009. Infantile colic, prolonged crying and maternal postnatal depression. Acta Paediatr. 98(8):1344-8.

Waters SF, West TV, Karnilowicz HR, Mendes WB. 2017. Affect contagion between mothers and infants: Examining valence and touch. J Exp Psychol Gen. 146(7):1043-1051.

Waters SF, West TV, Mendes WB. 2014. Stress contagion: physiological covariation between mothers and infants. Psychol Sci. 25(4):934-42.

Wessel MA, Cobb JC, Jackson EB, Harris GS Jr, Detwiler AC. 1954. Paroxysmal fussing in infancy, sometimes called colic. Pediatrics. 14:421–35.

Wolke D, Bilgin A, Samara M. 2017. Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Fussing and Crying Durations and Prevalence of Colic in Infants. J Pediatr. 185:55-61.e4.

 

Content last modified 12/13