October 1996

Family Life 1 Year After Infantile Colic

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychology, University of Turku (Ms Räihä and Dr Korhonen), and Department of Pediatrics, Turku University Hospital (Drs Lehtonen and Korvenranta), Turku, Finland.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(10):1032-1036. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170350034005

Objective:  To determine the persistence of family psychological characteristics associated with infantile colic.

Design:  A 1-year follow-up survey of families with colicky infants was carried out. The family interview was used to evaluate the psychological factors of colicky and control families.

Participants:  A total of 59 families with a colicky infant and 58 control families were enrolled in the initial evaluation in the population-based study. On the basis of a structured diary of the infant's crying, filled in by the parents, 3 groups of families were formed: severe colic group (n=36), moderate colic group (n=23), and control group (n=58). The families were interviewed when the infants were 2 and 12 months old. The Beavers-Timberlawn Family Evaluation Scale and the Oulu Family Assessment Scale were used. Thirty-two families (89%) from the severe colic group, 17 (74%) from the moderate colic group, and 49 (84%) from the control group participated in the 1-year assessment.

Results:  At the 1-year assessment, the structural profile of the families did not differ between the groups. However, families in the severe colic group had more difficulties in communication, more unresolved conflicts, more dissatisfaction, and greater lack of empathy than families in the other groups. Furthermore, there was less flexibility in both colic groups than in the control group. During the follow-up period, coalition between parents in the moderate colic group became stronger compared with the first assessment, and the atmosphere improved significantly in all 3 study groups. However, the amount of empathy decreased in the severe colic group.

Conclusions:  Our study shows that certain family characteristics associated with severe infantile colic persist. Families in the moderate colic group coped nearly as well as families in the control group. The family mood had improved a lot in all families when the infant was 1 year old.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:1032-1036