Getting the Word Out: Advice on Crying and Colic in Popular Parenting Magazines

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Abstract

ABSTRACT:

The objective of this study is to determine whether advice in parenting magazines reflects current evidence-based understanding of early infant crying and colic, where (1) “colic” is the upper end of a spectrum of crying behavior reflective of normal infant development, and (2) physical abuse—in particular, shaken baby syndrome (SBS)—is a serious medical consequence of early crying. All available issues of 11 popular Canadian parenting magazines published between January 2000 and December 2004 were hand-searched and systematically reviewed. Fifty-one articles were found with information on: (1) causes of, (2) responses to, and/or (3) mention of SBS or abuse as a consequence of crying and/or colic. There were 105 specific causes suggested, but almost no agreement concerning the causes of crying and colic. Similarly, there were 231 specific responses to crying and colic mentioned, but little agreement among the suggested responses. For both crying and colic together, the consequence of abuse was mentioned only 7 times, and SBS only twice. Making the advice literature a truly helpful vehicle for parents concerning normal behavioral development and its consequences for their new infant seems to be a significant challenge. Arguably, this is an important shared responsibility of physicians, researchers, and journalists.

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