When Colic Is Not A Good Enough Diagnosis

Our Daughter

Photo courtesy of Amy Lee Photography

The birth of our daughter was a beautiful day. The next eight weeks that followed however were not. Incessant crying, a trip to the ER, extreme bloating and a perpetual discontent for life made it a rough introduction into the world. Some could say, “welcome to parenthood” or “sounds like a baby with colic” but our daughter was our second child, she was very different than our first and we wanted to help.

Our firstborn was lactose intolerant so we started there. Our pediatrician recommended an elimination diet so my wife eliminated all potential allergens from her diet. Dairy, wheat, soy, fish, eggs and nuts were out. We also saw signs of infant reflux and began reflux meds (Ratadine) in conjunction with the elimination diet.

Fourteen days later and there was no significant or consistent improvement. Our daughter would wake up 45 minutes following a feeding in a level of screaming you hope never to hear. Gently pressing on her lower abdomen, putting her over your shoulder and repeating 2-3 times sometimes did the trick. Other times, you’d simply have to outlast the crying.

My wife, who was breastfeeding even made sure she pumped prior to every feeding to reduce the strong letdown often experienced by our daughter. This again brought little to no lasting improvement.

xray

This is an x-ray of our daughters digestive system at 2-weeks old. All the dark chambers are pockets of gas.

If your newborn cries for more than three hours a day, doctors will often diagnosis your baby with “colic”. For us, only three hours would have been a blessing. But the potential diagnosis of colic never sat well with us. It seemed like the easy way out. And every challenging day and nightly battle spoke volumes to us. There is simply something not right with this little girl. While researching colic, we came across a reference to a study that found a reduction in “colic” symptoms when coupled with a probiotic supplement. An infant gut without the proper bacteria in it to aid digestion can cause “colic.” This set of bacteria is acquired through breastmilk/formula and improves with age. In other words, our assumption was that maybe, just maybe, the source of her problems were centered around an underdeveloped digestive system.

As we stood in our pediatricians office, our last ditch effort before making an expensive appointment with a pediatric GI specialist was to try 14 days of infant probiotic supplements.  After a bit of research online, we found a well reviewed probiotic powder for infants. Klaire Labs Infant Formula arrived from Amazon three days later. It includes six different bacteria and came shipped with a cold pack to protect potency.

We gave our daughter 1/4 teaspoon, per the bottle’s instructions via two syringes of warm water on a Tuesday morning. That night she went to sleep without any of the usual challenges. Never having two back-to-back nights without hours of crying and writhing, we again gave her another dose Wednesday morning. And again, she went down without issue.

The difference between our daughter before probiotics and after is remarkable. Her entire demeanor has changed. Her awake times include peace, calm and a happy disposition. We have enjoyed new freedoms as we’ve ventured out into restaurants and events as a family, without incident. After spending the first eight weeks of her life in turmoil, our daughters biggest challenge is now finding a consistent sleep rhythm. She’s still got a ways to go, but we are incredibly blessed.

If we had to summarize the factors leading to her improvement, while we believe the probiotic supplement was a significant contributor there were  definitely other factors:

  • General maturing. We have no doubt that as the weeks went by and our daughter grew, all of her internal systems were developing.
  • Great pediatrician. Our doctor and her staff were incredibly aggressive in their treatment and troubleshooting. She was open to the probiotic supplement and recommended it. When your doctor cares about the health of your baby as much as you do, it’s huge. If you’re in the Kansas City metro we highly recommend this practice.
  • Grace of God. Given the wisdom and insight to connect with great doctors and great supplements is truly a blessing. We believe that by His grace we’re where we are today with a healthy, happy daughter, a peaceful home and a strong marriage.

Hopefully our eight to ten week journey through “colic” can be helpful to other parents in a similar season. Our experience has shown us that ultimately you have to be your kids biggest advocate. Ask questions, stick with doctors who fight for your kids as much as you do and research. The side-effects to probiotics were minimal. We were ready for increased bloating and irritability. Thankfully, our daughter had neither. As always, make sure to check with your doctor before giving your infant anything. We’re not doctors and any advice we give shouldn’t be construed as such. We’re simply parents who weren’t satisfied to suffer through colic.

One thought on “When Colic Is Not A Good Enough Diagnosis

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Danny. As soon-to-be first-timers, it’s super helpful to hear what others have been through & how they managed it. Colic seems like such a catch-all diagnosis, with little more to do than wait it out. Glad you guys were able to find a better solution.

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