Canadians often pride themselves on their toughness. We can handle cold winters, hot summers and the occasional body check during a game of hockey. That doesn’t mean we don’t get emotional and even shed a tear or two when necessary. In fact, Canadian babies may actually shed more tears than babies anywhere else in the world.
Researchers at the University of Warwick looked at the data from 28 studies to uncover what instigates colic (severe abdominal pain often caused by gas) in babies and which countries have the highest rates of it. The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that Canadian babies have some of the highest colic rates in the world, with 34 per cent of our tiny tots suffering from it. But it isn’t all bad news for exhausted parents: colic rates for Canadian babies tend to drop sharply after this time period.
According to the study, while four-week-old Canadian babies cry an average of 150 minutes per day, babies in other countries only cry an average of 118 minutes a day. Colic also hits babies in most countries around the five to six week mark, but Canadian infants suffer from colic the most between three and four weeks of age.
Canada isn’t alone in its high rate of criers, though. In the U.K., 28 per cent of babies had colic in their first two weeks out of the womb, while 21 per cent of Italian babies eight to nine-weeks-old also suffered from it.
Denmark, however, boasts the lowest crying time for babies, with only six per cent of babies aged three to four weeks suffering from colic.
The data collected was based on diary entries from parents, with researchers noting that differences in crying patterns between countries could be influenced by cultural norms towards child rearing and the diligence of parents when recording crying entries.
“In Canada, babies cried on average for 30 minutes more, so 2 1/2 hours a day,” Dieter Wolke, the study’s lead author told CTV News.
As for differences in crying time between countries, Wolke said that the causes behind the discrepancies were unclear. “We can only speculate on the reasons why there are country differences, in particular between Denmark and the rest of Europe and North America.” The study was also unable to pinpoint what causes colic in babies.
Parents can hopefully take some solace in the group’s findings, which indicated that the amount a baby cried was not a reflection of how well it was cared for. Around the world, 40 per cent of crying in an infant’s first few months is completely inconsolable.
“I think an important takeaway is that we always look to the parents… that they are doing something wrong. Our findings don’t suggest that,” Wolke said.
So if you have a colicky baby, it really isn’t your fault — it’s probably Canada’s.