Michael Greger MD states: Colic, characterized by prolonged periods of inconsolable crying, affects up to 40 percent of young infants. The condition is often dismissed as trivial by the medical profession, but should be treated seriously. It can contribute to postpartum depression, interfere with breastfeeding, and even lead to the death of the infant at the hands of a parent from shaken baby syndrome.
They’re not just crybabies. Colic is pain.
The medical profession has a scandalous history, not just denying pain relief to infants, but routinely performing surgery on infants with minimal or no anesthesia into the 1980s. One famous case in 1985 was little Jeffrey Lawson, who underwent open heart surgery fully awake and conscious. He had been given a drug to paralyze him so he wouldn’t squirm, but, like in a horror movie, the baby couldn’t move yet could feel everything. This wasn’t some rogue surgeon. Torturing babies was standard operating procedure in the 80s. Not the 1880s, mind you, but the 1980s. “The liaison between the [American Academy of Pediatrics] AAP and the Society of Anesthesiologists commented that the use of paralyzing agents was a standard and time-honored technique…” The profession has a history of infant pain denial. They didn’t even think babies could feel pain. Even today, most physicians don’t use painkillers or even local anesthesia for circumcisions, a procedure so traumatic the babies show stronger pain responses to vaccinations even months later.
Does burping help? After all, “[b]urping after feeding is commonly advised by pediatricians, nurses and parenting websites to promote expulsion of gases that accumulate during feeding with aim of decreasing discomfort and crying episodes.” Scientific evidence for the efficacy of burping was lacking until a 2014 randomized controlled trial for the prevention of colic and regurgitation (also known as spitting up) in healthy infants. What did they find? Burping is useless for colic and made the regurgitation worse. Burped babies spit up twice as many times as unburped babies!
Isn’t that horrifying about little Jeffrey Lawson’s open heart surgery? I’ve grown more and more cynical over the years, but it still shocks me how terribly wrong the medical profession can be in the face of overwhelming evidence and basic common sense. Now that more women are becoming physicians and graduating medical school classes are approximately 50:50 women and men, hopefully things will change for the better.
Michael Greger MD FACLM
Thank you Dr. Michael Greger for your informative and heart felt article. I know the mothers here can relate to the medical profession’s views on infant reflux and can attest to being dismissed for their claims.