Monday, December 18, 2017

Probiotics Work for Colic

Colic is an infantile disease where a healthy child shows signs of discomfort (cramping, moaning, crying) for long periods of time without an discernible cause, usually during the first month of life. Many therapies and treatments are given in order to ease the discomfort and give the parents a relief from extended crying periods. One of the most common is simethicone, an anti-gas product (if you remember last year I published an article showing how simethicone was contaminated with aluminum shavings)

However, at my office we treat colic as a GI pathology, where the balance between good and bad bacteria is out of balance causing intestinal cramping and excessive gas production. I usually recommend a combination of probiotics and dietary modification. Our results are great!

A new study out Pediatrics, lends more credence to this philosophy.

Infants who were identified as having colic (cried for more than 180 minutes per day, a common marker for colic) were given drops of the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri or a placebo once daily before feeding for 21 days. All infants were breastfed and no discernible illness was identified. After the 21 days only 16% of the infants in the probiotic group continued to cry for periods longer than 180 minutes.. a reduction of about 80% . While 60% of the placebo group continued to have episodes of crying longer than 180 minutes.

Previously a study comparing probiotics to simethicone showed superior results with probiotics but it was heavily criticized for not being blinded. This new study however was blinded and placebo controlled, thus providing strong evidence for the use of probiotics in the treatment of colic.

Also secondary measures were performed; showing those children in the probiotic group had significantly lower levels of ammonia (bacterial gas production) and fecal Escherichia coli.

This was a great win for the concept that colic is a GI bacterial imbalance. The research points to strains of L. rhamnosus and L. reuteri along with Bifidobacter species are the best probiotics at the infant’s age.

So if you child has colic make sure, in addition to all the other ways of soothing your child, to include probiotics in the treatment.  It will greatly soothe your child’s discomfort and provide a much better GI environment for future health.


Savino F et al. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 in infantile colic: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pediatrics 2010 Sep; 126:e526.

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