Have you ever been seated next to a screaming infant in an airplane? If so, you know that even short flights can feel like an eternity. But the question is: why is the baby so miserable? Is there something that can be done to ease their discomfort?
According to pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” In his new book, Colic Solved Dr. Vartabedian (or “Doctor_V” as he is known on Twitter) describes why unexplained fussiness may often be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease. Doctor V explains that “colic” is an old-fashioned term to describe the behavior of uncomfortable babies. Colic is not a medical diagnosis anymore than “crying” is… and fortunately the underlying cause of “colic” has been discovered so that it can also be treated.
I met Doctor V at a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico a couple of months ago. Before our introduction I had no idea that he spent all of his clinical time examining and treating screaming babies – but once that fact was revealed, I understood immediately that he was the right guy for the job. Doctor V is a tolerant, affable man with a tremendous sense of humor and a voice made for radio. He is not easily flustered and has a genuine curiosity about others and their life stories. In fact, there’s something soothing about Doctor V – something that makes you feel that everything’s going to be ok.
And so it’s no surprise that Colic Solved is a written expression of Doctor V’s winsome personality. Every chapter is filled with empathy and reassurance, yet with a clear path forward for teasing out the real cause of a baby’s misery. In most cases, “colic” is actually caused by milk protein allergy or infant reflux (a painful burning sensation caused by regurgitating stomach acid). Doctor V carefully explains how to tell the difference, and what to do about it. Interspersed are amusing vignettes called “Tales From The Crib” in which parents with difficult-to-soothe babies navigate their way towards a resolution.
But best of all, Doctor V does not hesitate to do some good old fashioned myth-busting when it comes to exaggerated claims not based on scientific evidence. Infant formula makers, baby bottle makers, and baby product manufacturers are notorious enablers of magical thinking – moms and dads purchase all kinds of products in a desperate attempt to soothe their babies. Unfortunately, most of these solutions do not treat the root cause of the problem – though businesses thrive on colic cures for desperate parents.
Here’s an excerpt of Doctor V’s exposé of a common soy formula myth (p. 117):
Soy Formula – Do You Feel Lucky?
One of the first impulses for parents with a screaming baby is to reach for soy formula. It sounds all natural and easy to digest. But the role of soy formula in the milk-allergic baby is very misunderstood…
The real problem with soy formula comes with the belief that it’s a reasonable cure for the allergic baby. But up to 50% of babies who are allergic to cow’s milk will react to soy protein in a similar way, so if you or your pediatrician chooses to treat your allergic baby with soy formula, you should consider it a gamble…
Colic Solved is a gem of a book. It’s witty, wise, and well written – a must-read for any parent of a chronically fussy baby. I also think that pediatricians and family physicians should strongly consider prescribing this book to parents of unhappy infants. There’s probably no better way to solve colic once and for all.