Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Fussing and Crying Durations and Prevalence of Colic in Infants

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Abstract

Objective

To determine the mean duration of fussing and crying and prevalence of colic using modified Wessel criteria in infants in the first 3 months of life.

Study design

A systematic literature search was performed using the databases Medline, PsycINFO, and Embase. The major outcome measure was mean total fuss/cry duration during 24 hours at ages 1-2 weeks (11 samples), 3-4 weeks (6 samples), 5-6 weeks (28 samples), 8-9 weeks (9 samples), and 10-12 weeks (12 samples).

Results

Of 5687 articles reviewed, 28 diary studies (33 samples) were suitable for inclusion in meta-analysis; these studies included 8690 infants. No statistical evidence for a universal crying peak at 6 weeks of age across studies was found. Rather, the mean fuss/cry duration across studies was stable at 117-133 minutes (SDs: 66-70) in the first 6 weeks and dropped to a mean of 68 minutes (SD: 46.2) by 10-12 weeks of age. Colic was much more frequent in the first 6 weeks (17%-25%) compared with 11% by 8-9 weeks of age and 0.6% by 10-12 weeks of age, according to modified Wessel criteria and lowest in Denmark and Japan.

Conclusions

The duration of fussing/crying drops significantly after 8-9 weeks of age, with colic as defined by modified Wessel criteria being rare in infants older than 9 weeks. Colic or excessive fuss/cry may be more accurately identified by defining fuss/cry above the 90th percentile in the chart provided based on the review.

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