CHICAGO (AP) _ Mothers of colicky babies, take heart: New research bolsters evidence that the incessant crying usually stops by about 3 months of age _ and has no lasting effects on your sanity.
The good news ``should provide some relief to parents who find themselves caring for a colicky infant,'' said Canadian researchers who studied 547 mothers and babies.
Based on the mothers' reports, 131 of the babies at age 6 weeks had colic, which was defined as inconsolable crying for three or more hours a day at least three days a week.
The maddening but generally harmless condition disappeared by 3 months in more than 85 percent of the babies. Babies at 3 months cried and fussed for an average of about one hour per day, or about half that seen when they were 6 weeks old, the researchers found.
The results suggest ``that early crying patterns reflect a process of normal maturation,'' according to the study, led by researcher Tammy Clifford at the University of Western Ontario. Clifford is now at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa.
The study appears in December's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, published Monday.
At least 10 percent of U.S. babies are thought to have colic. Their crying episodes have no obvious cause, may last several hours and can be terribly frustrating for new parents.
But the researchers found that, early on, mothers of colicky babies reported levels of anxiety and depression similar to those with less fussy babies, and that the symptoms in both groups of mothers generally subsided by the time the infants were 6 months old. Fathers were not studied.
Other researchers have suggested that colic may cause some parents to shake their babies to death.
Most of the mothers in the Canadian study were married, financially secure and had resources to help deal with their cranky babies. Clifford theorized that mothers facing extreme stress or financial hardship might be less able to cope with colic and could have elevated levels of anxiety or depression.
Nonetheless, colic expert Dr. Ronald Barr of McGill University called Clifford's study an important contribution to sparse research on colic.
The findings add to evidence that ``the outcome for infants with colic is good, at least in low-risk populations,'' Barr said in an editorial.