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Keywords:

  • infant colic;
  • paediatrician;
  • survey

Aim

Persistent crying in infancy (i.e. crying that lasts for more than 3 h a day for more than 3 days per week for at least 3 weeks) is widespread. Although there is no gold standard approach to its management, guidelines exist with common management principles. This study aims to document how Australian general paediatricians (i) assess and manage persistent crying compared with published guidelines; (ii) screen for and manage associated post-natal depression; and (iii) rate their training in this area.

Methods

Online survey were administered to all 394 members of the Australian Paediatric Research Network in November 2011 to February 2012. Members are predominantly general paediatricians.

Results

A total of 168 paediatricians (45%) responded. The majority (n = 96 (69%)) take one session to assess infant crying and at least two sessions to manage it (n = 106 (79%)). Specific approaches are not always evidence based (e.g. use of antacids/simethicone by 8%) and do not follow available guidelines. Most paediatricians routinely asked about maternal (n = 120 (88%)) but not paternal (n = 51 (33%)) mental health. Paediatricians typically received training around this issue before rather than after gaining formal paediatric qualifications (61% vs. 37%, respectively) and rate their training as satisfactory (67%). Despite this, only 39% feel very confident in managing infant crying.

Conclusion

The lack of a gold standard approach to managing persistent infant crying has likely contributed to a lack of uniform care among Australian general paediatricians. Given that most paediatricians do not feel very confident in dealing with this problem, there is a scope for further training supported by evidence-based guidelines.