Original Research

Suck, swallow and breathing coordination in infants with infantile colic

Hanlie Degenaar, Alta Kritzinger
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 62, No 1 | a115 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v62i1.115 | © 2015 Hanlie Degenaar, Alta Kritzinger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 December 2014 | Published: 02 December 2015

About the author(s)

Hanlie Degenaar, Institute of Psychology and Wellbeing, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Alta Kritzinger, Department of Speechlanguage Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Background: There appears to be a perception amongst parents and in popular literature that infantile colic is caused by feeding difficulties. Limited support for this perception is found in scientific literature. Whilst there is scientific evidence that suck, swallow and breathing are key components of successful feeding, these components and the coordination thereof in infants with colic have not been extensively researched.

Objective: The objective of the study was to explore the suck, swallow and breathing coordination in infants with infantile colic and compare it with infants without the condition.

Method: An assessment protocol for suck, swallow and breathing coordination was compiled from literature. This protocol was performed on a research group of 50 infants, independently diagnosed with infantile colic, and a control group of 28 infants without the condition. All participants were from two rural towns in the North–West province, South Africa, selected with a snowball selection method and strict selection criteria. The study followed a static comparison group design.

Results: A significant difference in the key components of feeding and the presence of colic in participants of four age categories were found. The correlation between postural control and the presence of infantile colic were sustained in participants from 2–19 weeks old.

Conclusion: Suck, swallow and breathing were found to be significantly associated with infantile colic. The findings should be investigated further. It appears that speech-language therapists may play an expanding role in infantile colic.

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