Probiotics reduce colic in newborns

The Wall Street Journal reports that research published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that the introduction of probiotics to newborns’ guts may reduce the risk of them developing colic.

HealthDay reports that for the study, investigators “gave more than 500 newborns either probiotic drops or a placebo.” They found “that, over three months, the babies who got the probiotics had significantly shorter crying spells and less stomach upset than the babies given the placebo.”

In addition, infants given probiotics during the first three months of life appear to have fewer bouts of colic, acid reflux and constipation, according to Italian researchers.

Colic — excessive crying that is unrelated to a medical problem — is the cause of as many as one in five visits to physicians who care for infants, the researchers said. It is also a source of anxiety and stress for parents.

“In Europe, probiotics are widely used to treat colic,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Flavia Indrio, of the department of pediatrics at Aldo Moro University of Bari.

Probiotics are friendly, live bacteria that help maintain a natural balance of organisms in the intestines, Indrio said. To see if probiotics could prevent colic and other gastrointestinal distress, the researchers gave more than 500 newborns either probiotic drops or a placebo.

“Parents need to be informed that probiotics possibly cure and prevent colic,” Indrio said. “This is something I use routinely in my practice to treat colic.”

Normally, the intestines have about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that serve to reduce harmful bacteria and keep the digestive system healthy. One of the most common probiotic bacteria is Lactobacillus, which is found in yogurt and was the bacteria given to infants in this study.

The report was funded by BioGaia AB, Sweden, which makes the probiotic drops used in the study.

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