Characteristics of infants admitted to hospital for persistent colic, and comparison with healthy infants

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To describe clinical characteristics of infants with colic admitted to hospital because of ongoing excessive crying (colic).


Characteristics of 104 infants admitted to hospital because of severe excessive crying (cases) were compared to those of 100 healthy thriving controls randomly selected from records of well baby clinics.


Half of the cases were reported to cry excessively from the day of birth, and feeding changes had been recommended in 77%. A medical cause of excessive crying was identified in none of the cases. Almost all infants showed a rapid transition to normal crying behaviour during admission; none cried for >3 h per day. Mean gestational age and mean Apgar scores were slightly lower in cases than in controls. There was a trend of positive family history of atopy being more common in controls (45%) than in cases (38%, p = 0.14). Feeding problems were more common in cases (71%) than in controls (36%, 95% CI for difference 21.6%–46.9%). Pregnancy or birth complications were much more common in cases (85%) than in controls (37%; 95% CI 35%–58%).


Conclusions: Infants with severe excessive crying show normalization of crying behaviour during hospital admission, and are unlikely to have medical causes for their colic. The most important risk factor for excessive crying was a complicated pregnancy or birth, suggesting that this might predispose parents to regard normal crying behaviour as excessive.

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