Is There a Link Between Migraines and Baby Colic?

Does an incessant baby's crying hint at a future of migraines?

Baby is crying
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For those out there who have ever cared for a newborn, you may recall their piercing cry when hungry or sleepy. It can make your skin tingle and your blood pressure go up. You probably never associated your baby's colic with future health conditions. But, one study in JAMA, investigated a link between infant colic and migraines in children and adolescents.


To investigate the relationship between colic in infants and the development of migraines in childhood or adolescence.


Children, between the ages of 6 and 18 who visited the emergency department in three European sites (one in France, two in Italy) and were diagnosed with either a migraine or tension-type headache, according to the second edition of the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-II) were identified. A control group was composed of children in the same age range who visited the emergency department of each participating site for minor trauma during the same period, April through June 2012. Parents of these children, both the control group and experimental group (children diagnosed with migraine or tension-type headaches) filled out a questionnaire that assessed the child's and family history of infantile colic.


A total of 328 patients (208 children who experienced migraine and 120 diagnosed with tension-type headaches) and 471 control participants were included in the study.

According to the study, the results were reported as follows: "In children with migraine, 72.6% (151/208) reported infantile colic. In the migraine with aura group, the prevalence of colic was 69.7% (46/66 children), and in the migraine without aura group the prevalence was 73.9% (105/142 children).

In the tension-type headache group, the prevalence was 35.0% (42/120 children), and in the control group, the prevalence was 26.5% (125/471 children)."

There was a significant association found between colic as an infant and the development of migraines with and without auras in children. There was no link found between infantile colic and tension-type headaches.

What Does This Mean?

These results suggest that colic in infants may be a form of an "early migraine." More studies are needed to further understand this potential link and the "why" behind such a connection. But, treatment of migraines in children, like sleep improvement, relaxation, and trigger avoidance, may play a role in infantile colic management. Likewise,

Take Home Points

  • Remember, a link implies a potential relationship or association. It does not mean that one medical condition directly causes another. Do not assume that a colicky baby will have migraines. Rather, think of it this way. An individual with migraines may have been more likely to be colicky as a baby than an individual without migraines. Or a colicky baby may be more susceptible to migraines than a non-colicky infant. Or the colic in an infant may be a form of "early migraine." Overall, more studies are needed examine this relationship between migraines and infant behavior.

  • Be proactive in your and your child's healthcare. Remember, migraine is a complex medical condition that is likely precipitated and exacerbated by multiple factors, both genetic and environmental. Discussing your history and concerns with your doctor will only make you a more informed patient. 


Romanello S, Spiri D, Marcuzzi E, Zanin A, Boizeau P, Riviere S et al. Association between childhood migraine and history of infantile colic. JAMA. 2013 Apr 17;309(15):1607-12.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this site is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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