Colic May Be a Baby's Early Migraine Symptoms

Infants suffering from colic cry incessantly, and the cause is relatively unknown. With the sound of distress coming from a colicky baby, most believe that it is a result of some sort of pain, but of course, babies can't tell us what hurts. Many doctors blame digestive problems and gas pain, but all too often for distressed parents, digestive treatments fail.

A new study has revealed the problem could be linked with childhood migraine headaches in at least some infants.

Researchers looked at health records of more than 200 children and teens suffering from migraine headaches. They found that these early migraine sufferers were far more likely to have had colic as babies.

Among the migraine group in the study, 73% had colic as infants. The research team compared this group to a control group of 471 kids without migraine, and found only 27% of them had colic as babies.

The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In a JAMA editorial, the discussion continued that the link between migraine and colic may explain why digestive treatments typically don't cure colic.

Migraine headaches are very rare in young children, but by adolescence, as many as 10% of young people suffer from them. They are thought to be inherited and may be caused by irritation in nerve cells in the brain interacting with brain blood vessels. The authors of the study said that it is possible that colic is a result of similar changes in nerves and blood vessels in an infant's digestive system.

This study adds to a growing understanding of a possible link between migraine headache and colic. For example, previous research has found mothers with migraines were twice as likely to have colicky babies. The authors of the study concluded that more research is needed to prove the relationship between migraine and colic. If the connection can be confirmed, these findings may offer new hope for more effective treatment of colic.

Chiropractic care may be the answer that stressed parents are looking for to help their colicky infants. A previous study has found that chiropractic manual therapy reduced crying time for babies with colic. And other research has shown chiropractic to be an effective approach to treating infant headache.


Romanello S, et al. Association between childhood migraine and history of infantile colic. The Journal of the American Medical Association 2013; 309(15): 1607-1612. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.747.