Colic is strictly defined as periodic (around the same time every day) fussy crying in an otherwise normal, healthy infant who has no medical problem. Various authorities over the years have estimated that 15-20% of babies have colic. Horsefeathers.

True colic as strictly defined does exist, but in my experience is rather uncommon. I admit about 350 newborns a year into my practice - maybe two or three tops have that type of bad crying. Temperamentally difficult babies certainly exist and I think that's what underlies most true "colic". See Dr. Turecki's book.

What has impressed me, as time and medical progress marches on, is that the vast majority of "colicy" babies have either a medical problem or are being fed or otherwise handled in a way that is causing problems.

The medical problems include chiefly gastroesophageal reflux and milk-soy allergy; lactose intolerance is reputed to be a cause but must be quite rare.

Handling problems include supine feeding position, artificial nipples too tight on the bottle (See bottle feeding), and too frequent feeding - habit snacking - that leads to a fussy sort of pseudo-colic.

Habitual air swallowing is another problem in a class by itself - it's the baby's doing. These kids are rare.

We can now cure or greatly alleviate symptoms in all but the truly colicy babies (those with what I assume is neurologically based hypersensitivity type crying - nobody really knows for sure what causes it). I tell parents of babies with problem crying that we're going to pursue all the medical and handling avenues before labelling the crying as "colic" and telling the parents they'll largely just have to put up with it.

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