CAN PROBIOTICS HELP WITH INFANT OR BABY COLIC?
The Probiotic L. Reuteri Could Be Quite Effective in the Treatment of Colic
Disclaimer: this blog and advice is solely meant for understanding and is not a recommendation or advice for treatment. Any use with your child or infant should always be done in coordination with your health professional and/or doctor.
The use of probiotics and the establishment of a healthy gut is an ever growing field of research and exploration. Recent work by health researchers in clinical studies has examined the potential validity of using probiotics, specifically the strain L. reuteri, in the alleviation of colic in infants. While there certainly has been very hopeful results along this line, further studies are needed to fully validate its effectiveness.
What Is Colic?
Well, in all likelihood if you are reading this then you have experience with fussy and crying babies, but for clarity Wikipedia defines colic as
"Episodes of crying for more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week, for three weeks in an otherwise healthy child. Often crying occurs in the evening. It typically does not result in long term problems. The cause of colic is unknown. Some believe it is due to gastrointestinal discomfort like intestinal cramping. Diagnosis requires ruling out other possible causes."
A crying baby can be extremely frustrating and trying for parents, particularly when combined with busy work schedules and the sleep deprivation that comes along with having a newborn. This inexplicable condition is closely associated with maternal depression, early termination of breast feeding and even cases of head trauma.
So, naturally, any remedy or cure would be highly appreciated by parents, family and caretakers. Additionally, there is growing evidence that although colic tends to be self-resolving, it can have longer-term effects upon the infant's future well being.
And so, a recent analysis sought to examine several clinical studies done on the effectiveness of probiotics in relieving colic
. The bottom line was that there was significant support for improvement and the use of the the probiotic L. reuteri would be recommended for breast-fed babies. Support for formula-fed babies has yet to be determined as effective or not.
The studies were conducted using double-blind, randomized test groups
, roughly half of the infants were administered the probiotic and the other a placebo (This type of clinical study is considered the "gold standard of studies"). There were four such studies and a total of 374 infants were involved.
Using the probiotic L. reuteri to treat colic produced some fairly impressive results.
The probiotic group showed improvement (less crying and fussing) at all time points and the probiotic group was twice as likely to show improvement over the placebo group. These results were pronounced for breast-fed babies but, at least in these studies, the results were considered insignificant and conflicting for formula-fed babies. The study concluded that L. reuteri was recommended as a colic remedy for breast-fed babies and that further research was needed as to its effectiveness for formula-fed babies.
While purely conjecture on our parts, this conclusion would fit with the general scope and theory of probiotics. By establishing a more balanced and beneficial bacterial environment in ones body, this in turn contributes to overall well-being both emotionally and physically.
The human race has evolved and survived due to, in no small part, a very active and synergistic partnership with bacteria. From digestion, to immune support, to emotional stability and beyond, these micro "critters" play a super-role in keeping us alive and healthy. This is as true for our children as it is for us adults.
Building a healthier gut for your child is a subject and activity that is well worth exploring.