Mother’s Migraines & Colic in Infants

I have two wonderful children; a daughter and son who both experience occasional Migraine attacks.

If my memory is correct, any Migraines I had during my second pregnancy with my son were tolerable, but life after he was born was another story…My son had a tough start from the beginning.

After leaving the hospital with a minor eye infection, he didn’t even wait for the two-week mark when colic typically sets in; he was up for it right away. His colicky period was all day, every day. When we went for his two-week checkup, he had lost weight and was crying with that ear-piercing cry that makes you cringe. The pediatrician explained that colic was sudden pain and distress, likely from his stomach. He recommended swaddling him in addition to a change in formula. This did nothing to help his misery (or ours) and the crying continued…all day, every day. He was just inconsolable. This lasted 8 very long months. We went through every type of disgusting baby formula imaginable until thankfully, it just stopped. Unfortunately what didn’t stop was his overly sensitive nature to almost everything.

A small study recently caught my eye when it reported that moms with Migraine have a 2.6 times greater risk of having babies with colic than moms who don’t have Migraine. Investigators in this study had parents answer questions about the mother’s history of Migraines and their infants crying. Researchers reported that in mothers who had Migraine, 29% of babies had colic. Meanwhile, in the group that did not report mothers having Migraine, only 11% of babies had colic. It is possible that colicky infants may be more likely to develop migraines later on in life. These infants could also be at greater risk for periodic syndromes such as cyclical vomiting, abdominal migraine, and benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood. Researchers hope to follow infants from this study to determine if they are indeed at greater risk for other syndromes during childhood.

I found this fascinating as I have Migraine; my son had colic, and now has Migraine. The study authors also hypothesize that infants with colic may be more susceptible or oversensitive to their surroundings, like my own son was, and decreasing stimuli may be helpful. Dr. Gelfand reports this information “may suggest another way to help manage colic, such as decreasing stimulation (avoiding loud noise and bright lighting), as perhaps these babies are more sensitive to normal stimuli just as migraineurs are more sensitive to normal light and sounds during an attack.” This news may be helpful for moms with colicky babies. If parents are able to reduce stimuli, whether it is noise, lights, or clothing, this would be helpful for the entire family. Do you have Migraines and were any of your children colicky? I’d love to hear from you.

References: 1. Email correspondence with Dr. Amy Gelfand, Headache Center, University of California, and San Francisco, Calif. February 27, 2012. 2. Blanchard, Kathleen. RN.” Mom’s migraine doubles chances of infant colic.” EMaxHealth. February 20, 2012. 3. AAN 64th Annual Meeting Abstract. “Infant Colic Is Associated with Maternal Migraine.” February 2012.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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