Babies more than twice as likely to have colic if their mothers suffer from migraines
Babies are two-and-a-half times more likely to have colic if their mothers suffer from migraines, say researchers.
Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, looked at the medical records of 154 mothers and their babies.
Child neurologist Dr Amy Gelfand told the American Academy of Neurology: ‘Since migraine is a highly genetic disorder, our study suggests infant colic may be an early sign a child may be predisposed toward migraine headache later in life.’
A sure sign Mothers who suffer migraines are more than twice as likely to have babies who suffer colic, according to new research
The researchers say that is significant because excessive crying is one of the most common triggers for shaken baby syndrome, which can cause death, brain damage and severe disability.
Doctor Amy Gelfand, a child neurologist with the Headache Centre at UCSF, said: 'If we can understand what is making the babies cry, we may be able to protect them from this very dangerous outcome.'
Colic, or excessive crying in an otherwise healthy infant, has long been associated with gastrointestinal problems, presumably caused by something the baby ate.
However, despite more than 50 years of research, no definitive link has been proven between infant colic and gastrointestinal problems.
Unknown: Despite more than 50 years of research, no definitive link has been proven between infant colic and gastrointestinal problems
Babies who are fed solely breast milk are as likely to have colic as those fed formula, and giving colicky babies medication for gas does not help.
Dr Gelfand said: 'We've known about colic for a really long time, but despite this fact, no one really knows why these babies are crying.'
In the UCSF study, Dr Gelfand and her colleagues surveyed 154 new mothers bringing their babies to the paediatrician for routine check ups at two months, the age when colicky crying typically peaks.
'Colic may be an early manifestation of a set of conditions known as childhood periodic syndromes'
The mothers were surveyed about their babies' crying patterns and their own history of migraine, and those responses were analysed to make sure the reported crying did indeed fit the clinical definition of colic.
Mothers who suffered migraines were found to be two-and-a-half times more likely to have colicky babies. Overall, 29 per cent of infants whose mothers had migraines had colic compared to 11 per cent of babies whose mothers did not have migraines.
Dr Gelfand and her colleagues believe colic may be an early manifestation of a set of conditions known as childhood periodic syndromes, believed to be precursors to migraine headaches later in life.
Babies with colic may be more sensitive to stimuli in their environment just as are migraine sufferers.
They may have more difficulty coping with the onslaught of new stimuli after birth as they are thrust from the dark, warm, muffled life inside the womb into a world that is bright, cold, noisy and filled with touchy hands and bouncy knees.
Now, the UCSF team plans to study a group of colicky babies over the course of their childhood to see if they develop other childhood periodic syndromes, such as abdominal migraine.
Dr Gelfand is due to present the findings at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th annual meeting in New Orleans in April.