Saturday, October 8, 2016

Probiotics and Colic

Few years back I blogged here about how probiotics can help reduce the severity of viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) and even prevent antibiotic induced diarrhea in kids.  Well, now there is even a small but randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that showed how probiotics help colicky babies. You can read the full study here. For 21 days, breastfed Canadian babies who were given lactobacillus had significantly improved reduction in length of crying and fussing times based on recorded diaries and maternal questionnaires. Granted this investigation only involved 52 infants (very small sample). However, for tired parents looking for relief why not give this a whirl? Note that the study was only done with breastfed babies and not formula fed babies so it is unclear whether the same would hold true with the latter. But again, it wouldn’t hurt to try if parents are struggling for relief.

So the official definition of colic is uncontrolled crying for more than three hours per day, more than 3 days per week, and for longer than 3 weeks.... AND infant needs to have appropriate weight gain and a normal physical exam. This is very important! Therefore, if you are suspecting colic in your baby please do not just add yogurt to your infant's diet in hopes that the crying will stop. Consult your doctor first!  Other more significant medical causes need to be ruled out.  Some examples:

  • An infection
  • Acid reflux or stomach problems
  • Pressure or inflammation of the brain and nervous system
  • Eye trouble, like a scratch or increased pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Injury to bones, muscles, or fingers

If your doctor does confirm the diagnosis of colic in your infant then you can try giving lactobacillus via infant drops.  Here are some other tips that may help:

  • Eliminate all allergens (cow's milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, wheat) from the diet of the breastfeeding mom
  • Switch formula-fed infants to hydrolyzed formula

Majority of infants outgrow colic by 6 months. That may seem like a long time so if you are feeling like you are at the end of your rope, please seek help. It is overwhelming and stressful enough to care for a brand new baby, let alone one that cries often. Having a good support system is critical and knowing when to seek help is just as important.