Background Infantile colic is considered a transient problem, but children with infantile colic may have persistent behavioural problems. We studied the association between history of infantile colic, and attention deficit, hyperactivity, emotional and behavioural problems.
Method Data on crying symptoms in infacy and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) scores at the age of 7 were available for 39,000 singletons from the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC). SDQ scores above the 90th percentile of community samples were characterised as abnormal. We compared the odds for abnormal SDQ scores of children with and without infantile colic using logistic regression.
Complete follow-up with hospital admissions and discharge diagnoses from the National Patients’ Register were available for 63,773 children from the DNBC with data on crying symptoms. Hazard ratios (HR) for diagnosis of hyperkinetic disorder (HKD, ICD-10 F90.0-F90.9) were estimated using Cox regression.
Results Children with a history of infantile colic had an increased risk of abnormal scores in all SDQ difficulties subscales (OR [95% confidence intervals]: emotional symptoms: 1.6 [1.4–1.8], conduct problems: 1.5 [1.3–1.7], attention deficit/hyperactivity: 1.5 [1.3–1.8], relation with peers:1.4 [1.2–1.6]), as well as in the Total Difficulties score (1.6 [1.4–1.9].
We moreover observed an increased risk of HKD diagnosis (HR: 1.4 [1.1–1.9] among children with a history of infantile colic. Results were similar after adjustment for gestational age, birth weight, several intrauterine exposures, and maternal SDQ symptoms.
Conclusion Children with a history of infantile colic had higher risk of emotional, behavioural, attention deficit/hyperactivity problems, and for being diagnosed with HKD.