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An overview of systematic reviews of complementary and alternative therapies for infantile colic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number271 (2019)
Number of pages16
JournalSystematic Reviews
DateAccepted/In press - 7 Oct 2019
DatePublished (current) - 11 Nov 2019


Infantile colic is a distressing condition characterised by excessive crying in the first few months of life. The aim of this research was to update the synthesis of evidence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research literature on infantile colic and establish what evidence is currently available.

Medline, Embase and AMED (via Ovid), Web of Science and Central via Cochrane library were searched from their inception to September 2018. Google Scholar and OpenGrey were searched for grey literature and PROSPERO for ongoing reviews. Published systematic reviews that included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of infants aged up to 1 year, diagnosed with infantile colic using standard diagnostic criteria, were eligible. Reviews of RCTs that assessed the effectiveness of any individual CAM therapy were included. Three reviewers were involved in data extraction and quality assessment using the AMSTAR-2 scale and risk of bias using the ROBIS tool.

Sixteen systematic reviews were identified. Probiotics, fennel extract and spinal manipulation show promise to alleviate symptoms of colic, although some concerns remain. Acupuncture and soy are currently not recommended. The majority of the reviews were assessed as having high or unclear risk of bias and low confidence in the findings.

There is clearly a need for larger and more methodologically sound RCTs to be conducted on the effectiveness of some CAM therapies for IC. Particular focus on probiotics in non-breastfed infants is pertinent.

    Research areas

  • Colic, Systematic reviews, Overview, ROBIS, AMSTAR, Complementary and alternative medicine

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