Probiotics for that colicky baby

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Below is a short article from the NY Times.  It summarizes some of the studies that have been done regarding probiotics (healthy bacteria) and colic in babies.  See my comments at the end.

NY Times Article

Colic is one of the most prevalent conditions of infancy: about 20 percent of all babies suffer the inconsolable bouts of crying that characterize it.

Yet no one really understands what makes a baby colicky. Scientists have investigated a number of causes — allergies, hormones in milk, even stress in the womb. But some now think it may stem from inflammation in the gut, perhaps a result of too many harmful bacteria and not enough beneficial ones.

A 2009 study, for example, found that colicky babies had gastrointestinal inflammation and traces of a bacterium in their guts that may have prompted it. Babies without colic had no inflammation and a greater diversity of beneficial bacteria.

So could higher levels of gut-friendly bacteria make a difference?

In a 2007 study, Italian researchers looked into this by examining 83 colicky babies who were breast-fed. Over 28 days, some of the infants were given simethicone, a medication that reduces gas; the others were given a supplement containing L. reuteri, one of the beneficial bacteria known as probiotics and often found in yogurt. At the end of the study, the babies who received the probiotic cried an average of 51 minutes a day, compared with about two and a half hours in the other group. A 2010 study had similar results.

Gut microbiota changes induced by the probiotic could be involved in the observed clinical improvement,” the researchers wrote. Still, experts say they would like to see more studies.

Dr. Court’s Comments

Our gastrointestinal system is extremely complex.  A huge part of that complexity is the trillions and trillions of microorganisms that exist in your gut in the form of bacteria.  It is the balance of these bacteria that determines, to a large extent, the health of your gut and therefore, you.

Babies are no different.  An imbalance of bacteria can lead to many problems including allergies, maldigestion and malabsorption and now possibly colic.

It is not a surprise that research points to gut inflammation as a source of colic.  It makes perfect sense.  I see many patients in my office who have gastrointestinal complaints.  Through stool testing we are often able to determine that there is significant inflammation present in their GI system.  This inflammation is often helped by using potent probiotics to restore the balance of good and bad bacteria.

Taking a probiotic is very simple.  They are available in pill or powder form.  Many companies even make infant formulas that are specifically designed to be gentle on developing systems.

So if you have a young child who just won’t stop crying, consider trying a probiotic.  It’s a safe and effective tool to reduce colic and give your baby some much needed relief.

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3 Comments

Filed under Diet, Public Health

3 responses to “Probiotics for that colicky baby

  1. Lactospores are probiotic friendly bacteria. They improve gastrolintestinal function, also promoting the balance of good stomach flora. Lactospore increase enzymes, which in turn improve digestion and help inhibit the growth of bad bacteria.

  2. M. Hopson

    I saw in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neHbUI2JiPw that not all supplements work the same way since there are so many probiotic strains. I’ve read that puree-ing some probiotic sources is good for young children, but would that have the same effect as taking probiotic supplements or powder?

    • You are correct. Not all supplements are created equal. The quality control behind the nutritional supplement you take is exceptionally important as is the specific strain that is included in a probiotic.

      Puree-ing a probiotic-rich food will likely not be therapeutic in anyway because the numbers of bacteria are simply too low. That does not mean it is not good for you though! Those types of food are a great way to maintain health, but if you (or your child) have a specific problem they are unlikely to make a major difference because they do not have therapeutic levels of bacteria.

      They make infant probiotic formulas that are potent and safe for babies. I would investigate getting one of those. I use one called TherBiotic Infant Formula from Klarie Labs. It’s high quality and works great!

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