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Researchers gain insight into colic's causes

Monday - 7/23/2012, 4:33am  ET

Paula Wolfson, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - There's now new hope for infants with colic and their exhausted moms and dads.

Researchers are gaining new insight into the causes of colic, and some symptoms are treatable problems common in adults.

Pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, author of the book "Colic Solved," says babies can get acid reflux.

"Just like a baby's arms and legs are uncoordinated when they are born. The way their stomach squeezes is also not very well coordinated," says Vartabedian.

Another problem is milk allergies, specifically, sensitivity to milk protein.

Vartabedian says studies have shown that "up to 30 percent of babies with colic are actually suffering from milk protein allergies."

He says any parent whose baby has colic should consult closely with a pediatrician.

Sometimes thickening formula can help babies with reflux.

New formulas are coming to market that contain probiotics that may offer relief to babies whose gut bacteria are out of whack, he says.

Vartabedian, who is on the staff of Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, also says a little white noise can work wonders.

"A neutralizing background noise really helps, irrespective of what kind of irritability might be going on."

Vartabedian, who is a dad of two, notes that just a generation ago, parents with a colicky baby were told to wait it out. He says the two biggest advances have been getting a handle on the link between nutrition and colic, and learning how gut bacteria can affect an infant's well being.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)