Depressing Study Links Migraine to Colic, But It's Not All Bad News

Health Check 8

Which is worse: periodically experiencing painful, debilitating migraines—or parenting a baby who cries excessively for seemingly no reason whatsoever? How's this for unfair: it seems that one condition may be directly linked to the other.

In a recent study that was apparently custom-designed to depress the hell out of thousands of migraine sufferers, researchers found that mothers with a headache history are more than twice as likely to have babies with colic.

The only good news? It's possible this new revelation may actually offer some ideas for treating a colicky baby.

In the study, UCSF researchers analyzed information from 154 new mothers at their babies' two-month checkup (that's about the age when colic tends to peak). Overall, 29 percent of babies whose mothers had migraine had colic, compared to 11 percent of those babies whose mothers were migraine free.

Although the study was relatively small, the findings suggest that a mom with migraines may have a two-and-a-half times greater risk that her baby will have colic (defined as excessive crying in an otherwise healthy infant). Man, talk about a bummer. Also, a particularly wicked cycle of headache = crying baby = headache.

One of the theories related to this study is that colic may be an early sign that a child may be likely to experience migraine (a highly genetic disorder) later in life. Although no mom likes to think about her child being doomed to a headachy future, there's an upside to this otherwise unpleasant revelation: it may offer some clues on how to treat colic.

Study author Amy Gelfand, M.D., who is a child neurologist with the Headache Center at the University of California, San Francisco, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, suggests that new parents try treating colic like one would treat a migraine:

Turning down loud music, going to a quiet room and decreasing stimulation might help.

Keeping a "colic diary" in order to track flareups is also a good idea, along with any other migraine treatments that a pediatrician approves. Soothing baths, cool compresses, and dietary changes for breastfeeding moms are all potential options.

It's not the most uplifting study I've come across—so, you have horrible headaches? WELL GUESS WHAT—but more information is always a good thing. The research may also prove helpful in more accurately identifying older children with migraine by asking about a history of infant colic, and that's happy news for worried parents who can do more with a solid diagnosis than a bunch of symptoms and questions.

Hopefully this study will help researchers understand colic and migraine, and works towards much-anticipated cure.

Did you have a colicky baby? If so, do you also have migraines?

Image via Flickr/nateandmiranda

colic & crying


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nonmember avatar Tonya

Interesting. I began getting migraines right after the birth of my first child who didn't have colic. The second one, born four years later did.

shesl... shesliketx

I had a colicky baby the first time. No migraines. Easy pregnancy...this last time, I was on meds the whole time for migraines and Jackson is the happiest baby!

EBee12 EBee12

My mom started getting migranes just (before/after I forget) my sister was born, but I was her first and the colicky baby.

Jenny... JennyG0929

Migraines + two colicky babies...hmmm

Lynette Lynette

migraines & colic are both often connected to food sensitivities & allergies.  Food issues often run in families.  It all could be more connected to that.

Deweymom Deweymom

Phew...dodged that bullet! Have had migraines since college...neither of my kids had colic. (and I'm currently on day NINE of cluster migraines. Yay)

nonmember avatar suemd

I have suffered with migraines all of my adult life, and was a colicky baby. Hmmm...

Mafalda Mingacho

It's quite interesting! My mom had terrible migraines for years and my brother really suffered from colic when he was a baby! I had them occasionally, but around 18 I started having migraines and it just kept going. Around 20 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, so I think it may be related.

I found out that catnip tea, an herbal sedative, is an excellent aid to treat digestive disorders, namely colic, diarrhea, cramps, flatulence and stomach ulcers. It has helped me cope with my stomach problems.

The best thing is that it's safe for children when taken in small amounts. It will ease colic and bring down fevers caused by teething.

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