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Research project: Exploring parents’ experiences of common baby symptoms

Currently Active: 

In the first year of life, babies commonly experience symptoms such as crying or vomiting. Such symptoms may have an underlying medical cause but are usually self-limiting and can be viewed as part of 'normal' baby behaviour.  Baby crying, vomiting or other symptoms such as food aversion may be given a diagnostic label of cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) or gastro-oesophageal reflux, which can cause unintended harms and is associated with significant resource use for the NHS. There has been a huge increase in prescribing for specialised formula milk and anti-reflux medicine without any evidence of rising prevalence, suggestive of over-diagnosis and overprescribing.

We want to chat to parents of babies who have had any or multiple common symptoms (such as the symptoms listed below) when they were less than 4 months old, even if they have never consulted a GP or a nurse about this. We would also like to speak to parents who have considered Cow’s Milk Allergy, Reflux or Colic (whether or not they have received a diagnosis of this).


Local Investigator(s): Dr Ingrid Muller
Study team: Samantha Hornsey

Co-applicantsDr Miriam Santer, Dr Daniela Ghio, Dr Elizabeth Lovegrove, Kate Sykes
Collaborators: Dr Robert Boyle

Funder: NIHR School for Primary Care Research

Duration: 1 November 2021- 30 October 2022


This study is being conducted by the Primary Care Research Centre.

Taking part in this study

To get further information / find out how to be involved

Read the full participant information sheet below for further information

Complete the online reply form or email Sam Hornsey (

What is the study about?

Some babies cry or vomit or seem more unsettled than others, with common symptoms such as: excessive crying (not stopping crying for hours without being settled), fussing unless being held, vomiting, rash, changes in their nappies, excessive gas/wind or congestion.

This study is to better understand parents and carers’ experiences of these baby symptoms, when and where they seek help, support or information, and how having an unsettled baby might affect feeding decisions. This study will help with knowing when and how to provide support in dealing with these symptoms.

You can take part if:

You have a baby who is 12 months old or younger

Your baby experienced common symptoms in the first 4 months of life, or you considered allergy, reflux or colic.

What will happen to me if I take part? 

If you decide to take part, you will be asked to sign a consent form. The researcher will contact you to arrange a time that suits to have a chat about your experiences of having an unsettled baby. This may be by phone or videoconference (e.g. TEAMS or Zoom) depending on what suits you best.

The interview will take 30 mins to an hour. With your permission, this conversation will be recorded and transcribed (to written text). All personal details will be removed and fully anonymised.

You will be given a £15 gift voucher for taking part in the study.

Related research groups

Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education
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