Colic, reflux and constipation are three common difficulties for infants, generally considered to be separate conditions that need to be treated individually. But in reality, the opposite is true. Digestion and elimination are two bodily systems that are directly linked and controlled by the central nervous system.
Your Family Wellness Chiropractor recognizes that when your infant’s central nervous system is working properly, and the child is being given the proper nutrition, these three nightmares of motherhood can be controlled if not completely eliminated.
Colic has been defined as excessive, inconsolable crying of the infant, and research has shown that about 20% of all infants under the age of 4 months suffer from infantile colic. Episodes of colic can total three or more hours a day and happen anytime day or night but will usually begin to follow a pattern.
The general consensus between pediatricians is that colic is caused by excessive gas in the gastrointestinal tract and so their response is, of course, to medicate. The most commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of colic is dimethicone. The side effects of this drug include fatigue, sedation, blurred vision, loss of appetite, constipation, nausea and headache. While this list is certainly reason for pause, the most alarming fact is that the makers of this drug note on their literature that this chemical should not be given to infants under 6 months of age.
There are many holistic options available for colic including gripe water, a liquid solution containing herbs such as dill seed oil. Some brands of gripe water include sugar or alcohol so be sure to check the ingredients prior to use. The only option that is FDA-listed and regulated is Colic Calm, containing nine all-natural, allergen-free homeopathic remedies.
Another option for breastfeeding mothers is to take a probiotic. Dr. Marc Rhoads, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist, has looked for signs of inflammation in
babies’ stool samples and measured a biomarker called calprotectin that typically signals irritable bowel syndrome in adults. His research revealed much higher levels of calprotectin in infants with colic than those without. Additional studies revealed that colicky babies who were breastfed and received a strain of bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri cried about 46 less minutes per day than those who received a placebo.
While most infants will spit up a little after eating, infant reflux or gastro-esophageal reflux (GER) is a whole different matter entirely. It typically happens
due to a relaxation of muscles at the bottom of the esophagus and is considered a result of a lack of coordination between the organs of the upper digestive system.
Sometimes the matter being regurgitated is breastmilk or formula, but a lot of times it will include stomach acids causing the infant to be extremely distressed
due to the discomfort caused to the esophagus.
The highest concern when an infant is suffering from infant reflux is the fear of “failure to thrive”. Since sometimes a large amount of the child’s nutrition is
being regurgitated, many parents worry that they aren’t getting enough nutrition. With this concern in mind, many pediatricians will immediately prescribe a
drug treatment regimen.
However, there are things that a parent can do to assist their infant that may avoid the need for a chemical response. Many holistic care providers would suggest
- Keep the baby upright as much as possible, especially during and after feedings
- Allow the baby to sleep on an incline, this can be easily done by putting a pillow under the top of the mattress
- Feed the baby smaller and more frequent meals
- Burp the baby thoroughly after each feeding
While these tips may not be helpful with particularly severe reflux, it is definitely worth a try before prescription drugs.