BACKGROUND : There appears to be a perception amongst parents and in popular literature that
infantile colic is caused by feeding difficulties. Limited support for this perception is found
in scientific literature. Whilst there is scientific evidence that suck, swallow and breathing
are key components of successful feeding, these components and the coordination thereof in
infants with colic have not been extensively researched.
OBJECTIVE : The objective of the study was to explore the suck, swallow and breathing
coordination in infants with infantile colic and compare it with infants without the condition.
METHOD : An assessment protocol for suck, swallow and breathing coordination was compiled
from literature. This protocol was performed on a research group of 50 infants, independently
diagnosed with infantile colic, and a control group of 28 infants without the condition. All
participants were from two rural towns in the North–West province, South Africa, selected
with a snowball selection method and strict selection criteria. The study followed a static
comparison group design.
RESULTS : A significant difference in the key components of feeding and the presence of colic in
participants of four age categories were found. The correlation between postural control and
the presence of infantile colic were sustained in participants from 2–19 weeks old.
CONCLUSION : Suck, swallow and breathing were found to be significantly associated with
infantile colic. The findings should be investigated further. It appears that speech-language
therapists may play an expanding role in infantile colic.