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Infant Colic Linked to Migraine

Increasing research indicates that colic in infants is a type of migraine.

At the recent annual meeting of the American Headache Society, Amy Gelfand, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, presented the results of a review of studies that included nearly 3,000 participants and showed a clear link between the two disorders.

“It appears that the association between infant colic and migraine is quite robust,” Dr. Gelfand said.

The meta-analysis found that infants whose mothers had migraine were 2.6 times more likely to have colic than babies whose mothers did not have migraine and that children with migraine were 6.6 times more likely to have had infantile colic than their peers without migraine.

Understanding the disorders may help with treatment of colic, which affects up to 19% of babies, and is often attributed to gastrointestinal problems, although currently, its cause is not known. Having a baby with colic, with crying spells that last several hours each day, is profoundly stressful for parents, and Dr. Gelfand noted that by the time a colicky baby is 6 months old, more than 5% of parents have shaken, slapped, or smothered their child in an attempt to stop his or her crying.

Peter Goadsby, MD, PhD, also of the University of California, San Francisco, was also involved in the study and noted its importance.

“It seems to me that shedding new light and getting people to think about this very serious problem in a totally different way is very important,” he said.

He also advised parents of colicky infants to give acetaminophen, remove stimulation, and hold the babies as a means of soothing and quieting them.

Looking to the future, Dr. Gelfand said she would like to see a prospective study to find out which babies develop colic and who among that group would go on to develop migraine.

“It would be an expensive undertaking and would take lot of patience, but it would be a treasure trove of natural history data about what migraine looks like in the developing brain,” Dr. Gelfand said.

In addition to the presentation in June, an article about the study appeared in the May issue ofCephalalgia.

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