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A dummy’s guide to colic

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There are some victims of the current over-diagnosis epidemic who are frankly rubbish at articulating their plight. Instead of voicing a cogent explanation of how they are unnecessarily pathologised and medicated, they just shout and blubber and generally poo their pants.

Then again, they are only eight weeks old. And these infants are wondering, as I am, whatever happened to colic? Because not all that long ago, colic was a thing, wasn’t it? Any baby with unexplained persistent/recurrent crying simply had ‘infant colic’, the parents just needed a dose of reassurance and it all settled down given time.

Not any more. Infant colic doesn’t appear to exist nowadays. Why? Well, let me roughly translate that ‘Wwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaeeeeeeeeeeeeuuuuuurrrgh’ emanating from junior. What is actually means is, ‘Look, all I did was burp and I got taken to A&E where a doctor not much bigger/cleverer than me stuck me on an alginate, H2 blocker, a PPI and a cow’s milk-protein free diet then turfed me out without any follow-up.’

Ends up being unnecessarily medicated because of a spurious diagnosis

Because that’s what happens. Now, I don’t want to throw the screaming baby out with the bath water. There may be a few who really are suffering GORD or CMPI. But I’m equally sure there’s a whole lot more experiencing something minor and self limiting which we used to call colic, which needs nothing more than a pat on the head/fontanelle but which ends up being unnecessarily medicated because of a spurious diagnosis.

That’s medication that we GPs are not only continuing, but initiating, too, because indiscriminate hospital prescribing has normalised this spasm of over-reaction. And that’s despite the cost, the side effects and the fact that doing the dosage maths on a stressful day duty in a room full of anxious parents, screaming baby and unrestrained siblings pretty much has me soiling my own nappy.

Enough. Time for some Clinics for Colic, so long as the local Coliclinic is run by a paediatrician more familiar with doses of perspective than omeprazole. In the meantime, I’ll suggest the parents use a dummy. By which I don’t mean the local A&E doc.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at or follow him on Twitter @doccopperfield