Crybabies and the Popular Press

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • Last week, the New Yorker Magazine ran an article entitled Crybabies (Sept. 17), which targeted "the colic conundrum" and is unfortunately not available online. I am not sure if I am more disturbed by the inaccuracies in the article, or the process some in the popular press must be using to select articles which have the potential to affect many families struggling to find adequate health care for a baby in pain.


    The bottom line of the article was this: Babies cry because of this thing called colic and there is nothing you can do about it. Oh my.


    The article failed to mention the scientific support for the link between abdominal pain, food allergies, and reflux in infants. It also left out the fact that many of the babies who are suspected to have acid reflux are treated with reflux medications at ineffective dosages, which leaves doctors throwing up their hands saying "it must just be colic!" (Many in the reflux community think colic is a five letter word for "we don't know what is wrong.)

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    On the last page of the article, the author leaves the reader with the suggestion that the crying babies are just having temper tantrums and must be taught an early lesson, or the child will never learn self-limits or control. I have heard from many parents who were told something similar by their doctors, only to find out that their baby was in pain, and crying was his only form of communication.


    Below, is a email we received this week from someone who has escaped the "colic" mentality and has found a doctor who is up-to-date on specific medical issues that can make babies cry.



    So I received your book on Saturday and it is now Sunday evening and between short naps and crazy "lack of" sleep schedules I finished your book. This may sound cliché but you were really describing me and my family!!! I really got comfort from the book, we are a military family and so my support system is 3000 miles away, my husband works 15 hour days and sometimes nights so I am on my own with this, but your book was like curling up with a hot cup of tea and my mom. It felt so reassuring. I thought "O.K. I will finally get that validation that I am not crazy and more importantly that my child is not a bad kid. I can not recall the amount of tissues I went through during this book especially Chapter 5. My daughter is almost a year old and we are lucky enough to have, by accident, stumbled upon the awesome Dr. Bothwell. I had finally demanded a referral to an ENT, thinking perhaps there was something to this congestion and cough that our doctor could not figure out after my weekly visits. I got the run around that its just a cold, use a cool mist humidifier, elevate the crib and she'll grow out of this "colic" behavior. I even explained the terrible projectile vomiting, the severity of sleep deprivation, and the fact that my child would not eat...and how I force fed her just so she wouldn't loose (sic) weight. Now my local doctor is still saying she'll grow out of it. While she's "growing out of it" I am growing smarter and using Chapter 2 to my full advantage. I have already taken steps to figure this out on my own seeing as how the medical community is either not in the know, or knows too much and is a long wait to get in. Needless to say having a good doctor on my side is an incredible feeling, but she is only one doctor and she is very busy. So while I am waiting, this book is my new reference, my sanity, my touch of reality, the breath of air I needed in the midst of a reflux rain. It is exactly what the Dr ordered!

Published On: September 21, 2007