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Can probiotics soothe colicky babies?

A recent study reported in the New York Times found that colicky babies had gastrointestinal inflammation in the gut and traces of a bacterium that would have promoted it.  Babies without colic had no inflammation and a greater diversity of beneficial bacteria.

About 20 percent of all babies suffer from colic, and it can stem from several different causes – hormones in milk, allergies, even stress in the womb.  But scientists are now zeroing in on relief.  A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in 2009, found a direct correlation between the symptoms of colic and fewer strains of microflora in their intestines.

Likewise, a 2007 study by Italian researchers examined 83 colicky, breast-fed babies.  Over a 28-day period, some infants were given simethicone to reduce gas, while the others were given a supplement containing L. reuteri, a beneficial bacteria often found in yogurt.  At the end of the study, the babies who got the probiotic cried an average of only 51 minutes a day, compared with 2 ½ hours for the other babies in the group.

What should you look for in a probiotic for fussy infants?

Ideally, it should contain four billion active cultures per gram, and be a healthy mix of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.  It should also contain five viable strains of beneficial bacteria, including essential B. infantis.  Finally, it should be able to mix easily with formula, juice, milk or other liquids, and have a pleasant taste.

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‡These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The material on this page is for consumer informational and educational purposes only, under section 5 of DSHEA.

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