An Open Letter to the American Academy of Pediatricians…

Dear Pediatricians of America,

I want to start off by saying “Thank you”.  Thank you for all the hard work that you do. Thank you for spending 20 years in school and studying long hours to enter into a profession that is most noble.  You help the most helpless of all human beings: children.  You have to be able to understand the develoment of the human body through a large range of time, usually from birth to 18 years of age.  You do an amazing job and without you the mortality rate of children would be much higher.

However, this letter is not a simple thank you.  This letter is to ask you, no to beg you, to  rid your profession of the most worthless diagnosis that a parent of a new-born can ever hear uttered by a doctor.  If you should happen to meet again soon at the next AAP conference or if you are all hanging out at the golf course trying to decide which primary colored, cartooned wall paper border is best for your office if you wouldn’t mind taking sometime and talking about ridding your profession of the worthless diagnosis of COLIC.

As a parent of a 4 month old that has been diagnosed with Colic, I can tell you that this diagnosis has not helped one bit ease our confusion or make us feel more secure in our baby’s overall health.  Let me explain.  By your definition Colic is defined as a prolonged and intensified period of crying.  This crying is at times inconsolable by any means.  You, yourself say, that there is no explanation for why this happens.  Therefore, the diagnosis of Colic is really no diagnosis at all.  It would be the same as if a grown man walked into the doctor complaining of abdominal pain only to be told by the doctor that the man is suffering from abdomen pain.  You have to agree with me that this diagnosis would not fly in any doctors office in any developing country.  “I am sorry sir, but your pain is caused by pain.”  Does it really take 20 years of school, 150,000 in medical school debt to come to this conclusion?  We have put men on the moon, eradicated the world of things like small pox, yet we still can’t come up with a better solution to the reason that young babies cry inconsolably?

How about this.  How about you tell parent’s that it is a rare adjustment disorder.  That many of the world’s greatest leaders had to deal with the same problem.  That the crying we hear is not excruciating pain, but actually our babies forming greatness right before our eyes.

Also, if we could enlist your help in also eradicating the term, “its just colic”.  If you can’t get rid of this diagnosis all together at least this is a good start.  Maybe we can fine doctors if they ever utter these words in front of parents that have not slept in weeks.  We are not a rational bunch of people and the dangerous addition of the word “just” might push us over the edge.  No one in their right mind says something like, “Don’t worry its “just” cancer” or “Don’t worry its “just” a flesh-eating bacteria.”.  I understand that neither a flesh-eating bacteria or cancer is in the same realm as colic, but again we are not a rational bunch and by adding the word “just” you reduce our sleepless nights, our daydreams of a baby that sleeps for more then 45 minutes without screaming, and our desire for a normal life to a simple problem with a simple solution.  However, by your own admission, Colic has no simple solution, but time.  And time moves much slower when you can’t hear the tick- tock of a clock over the screams of your young bundle of joy.

Also, while we are on the topic of the proper verbiage to use with colicky babies and their parents, please advise nurses and doctors that we have been to every pharmacy in town.  We have used every over the counter option available to us.  We have driven the baby around town trying to get her to sleep.  We have “googled” colic and babies a dozen times.  We have  tried rocking chairs, vacuum cleaners, hot-water bottles, swinging, diet changes, and prayer.   So when your very well intentioned nurses and doctors start their sentences off by saying, “Have you tried…” Just know the answer is YES!  We have tried IT ALL and we are still in your office looking for help.  Again, we are not a rational bunch of people by week 3, but we are still cognitive enough to drive ourselves down to Walgreens and buy an 8 dollar bottle of Mylicon anti-gas drops in hopes that this would be the solution we are looking for.  So please, don’t ruin our fragile state by assuming we haven’t given it our all.  Maybe instead we can institute a ” Well, I’m a sure that you guys have been doing all that you can like trying Mylicon, hot-water bottles, etc” statement.  That way, we the parent, can let you know if there is something we haven’t done before coming to your office, which in most cases is out last oasis of hope.  Think about it.  The only thing worse then having a fussy baby is to have a fussy baby in a doctor’s office for 2 hours while we wait for your non-diagnosis.  So we have done all that we can to avoid your office and we would appreciate you doing all you can not to belittle us in our fragile state.  We ask you to remember the oath you took in medical school ethics class that, I think, goes something like “primum non nocere” or “first do no harm.”  Please understand that harm can be done not only to the patient in this instant but also the parent’s of said patient.  We thank you for considering this and look forward to the changes to come.  If you need us, please feel free to contact us anytime.  We will be awake.


Colicky parents everywhere


About Todd Van Dyke

Father, Husband, Son, and most of all lover of Christ.
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5 Responses to An Open Letter to the American Academy of Pediatricians…

  1. Pam Martin says:

    Sorry you are having this problem. Jackson had issues so understand how sleep deprived you are . If we lived closer I would love to be a substitute for grandma Candy.Jenn had a cd of the sound of a wash machine she played on a continous loop. helped some. Will keep all of you in my prayers.

  2. Amanda says:

    Hilarious. You know what we did when our daughter was “colicy”? We bounced up and down on an exercise ball in 45 minute shifts in the evening. Just thinking about it makes my back hurt. And, looking back, I see just how ridiculous that was. But, seriously, the best thing I ever did for myself was to put her on a schedule, that way I knew if she was crying, she wasn’t hungry or tired and I could just walk away and keep my sanity. And I did just that.

  3. shawn says:

    Have you tried having said baby’s cousins over for a sleep over? Not sure if that would help you, but it would help us. Don’t be so selfish…think about it.

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