Public Release: 

'Colicky' Babies: It Only Hurts A Little While

Center for Advancing Health

Parents whose babies are 'colicky' during the first few weeks after birth need not worry that their family lives will be disrupted by stress and conflict indefinitely.

At least that is the conclusion drawn by a team of researchers in Finland who studied 117 families, 59 of them with colicky infants and 58 with children of the same ages who cried less.

Infants defined as colicky were those who cried as though in pain for three hours or more a day on three or more days in any one week. Parents of such children typically fear that they will have a difficult child for life, and literature on temperament research has suggested that such infants tend to be more difficult over the long haul.

But in the October Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Hannele Raiha, Ps.L. and colleagues from the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital in Finland bring reassuring news to parents whose infants have colic: although they may be more anxious and have more conflict during the first year after birth, three years later they are no different from other families and the "mood" of the family actually improves.

"It causes an exhausting and stressful three months to many families," the researchers write. "Parents clearly expect something else from the infant's first weeks."

They first interviewed the families when the infants were colicky, emphasizing the psychological characteristics of the family as well as the severity of the colic. A year later, they found that certain family characteristics, such as how emotions were expressed, had remained the same, but after three years the families could not be distinguished by those characteristics from other families.

The researchers caution, however, that their findings are limited because the analysis was based on the families' own reports of their characteristics rather than on independent observation.

The research was supported by grants from The Finnish Academy, Gyllenberg Foundation, and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics is published bi-monthly by the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Dr. Hannele Raiha may be contacted in Finland at 358-2-262-6370 or by e-mail:

Release posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health For information about the Center, contact Richard Hebert at (202) 387-2829 or by e-mail:

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.