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Logo of archdischArchives of Disease in ChildhoodVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
 
Arch Dis Child. May 2001; 84(5): 398–403.
PMCID: PMC1718751
Systematic review of the occurrence of infantile colic in the community
P Lucassen, W Assendelft, J T. M van Eijk, J Gubbels, A Douwes, and W J van Geldrop
Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands. p.lucassen1/at/chello.nl
Abstract
AIMS—To assess the occurrence of infantile colic in the community and the need for professional help; and to study the influences of potential determinants of infantile colic.
METHODS—Surveys were identified by a systematic search in Medline (1966-98) and Embase (1988-98). Retrieved publications were checked for references. Studies selected were community based, prospective, and retrospective surveys on the occurrence of infantile colic published in English, German, French, or Dutch. Occurrence rates were calculated as percentages. Methodological quality of the surveys was assessed by two assessors independently with a standardised criteria list containing items on method of data gathering, definition of colic, and drop out rate.
RESULTS—Fifteen community based surveys were identified. The methodological quality varied considerably and was generally low. Even the two most methodologically sound prospective studies yielded widely varying cumulative incidence rates of 5-19%. Referral rates or the need to seek help because of crying were consistently lower than occurrence rates for prolonged crying as such. Gender, socioeconomic class, type of feeding, family history of atopy, and parental smoking were not shown to be associated with colic.
CONCLUSION—Occurrence rates of infantile colic vary greatly according to methodological quality. A considerable number of parents reporting prolonged crying do not seek or need professional help.

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