Changing Colic Culture

Changing Colic Culture

How about a fresh approach? What if simply giving probiotics to babies would dramatically reduce the vexing symptoms of colic? What if the crying and distress of colic were related to the mix of bacteria in babies’ guts?

Researchers at Regina Margherita Children Hospital in Turin, Italy decided to find out. They recruited 90 healthy, breastfed babies who had been crying for more than 3 hours a day for more than 3 days a week. Half of the babies were given 5 drops a day of beneficial gut bacteria (the probiotic L. reuteri) for 28 days; the other half got 15 drops twice a day of simethicone, one of the most commonly used colic treatments. All of the moms were asked to  follow a cow’s milk free diet.

The dramatic results appear in the January 2007 Pediatrics. An impressive 95 percent of the probiotic  babies responded, compared to only 7 percent of the simethicone babies. By the  end of the first week of the study, average daily crying time had decreased 38  minutes for the probiotic group and 20 minutes for the simethicone group. By 28  days, the average daily crying had decreased by 2 hours and 26 minutes in the  probiotic group and by only 52 minutes in the simethicone group.

Clearly, more  research is needed into this approach to colic treatment, but the preliminary  research is already very exciting. It seems wise to me to nurture healthy  bacteria in babies. Simple steps include, where possible, probiotics for  Mom, vaginal birth, immediate close contact with the mother, exclusive breastfeeding, and avoiding things that can kill the beneficial bacteria (such as unnecessary antibiotics or chlorine).

Dr. Alan Greene

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Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

 

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