Probiotics 'no good' at treating infant colic

17 May 2016

Infant

“Probiotics 'don't ease' baby colic,” the Mail Online reports. A small, though well-conducted, study suggests that probiotics – commonly touted as “friendly bacteria” – could actually make symptoms worse.

Colic is a poorly understood condition in which otherwise healthy babies cry excessively and frequently. While not a serious threat to a baby’s health, colic can be extremely distressing for parents – especially those of the sleep deprived variety (is there any other kind?).

The study included 167 young babies with colic and looked at whether giving them daily drops of the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri) improved symptoms, in comparison to giving them inactive placebo drops. The researchers found the treatment did not help.

In fact, after a month of treatment, formula-fed babies in the probiotic group actually cried or fussed for almost an hour longer than those in the placebo group. The treatment did not have any side effects.

This may be bad news for parents struggling to comfort their crying baby. The good news, however, is that all babies grow out of colic within a few months.

The mystery of colic

Despite being one of the most common infant conditions, affecting around 1 in 5 babies, colic remains poorly understood.

Suggested factors that may contribute towards the condition include indigestion, a temporary sensitivity to environmental factors such as heat or light, or hormonal changes in the baby’s developing body.

What is known is that colic isn’t linked to faults on the parents’ part.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the Royal Children’s Hospital, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the University of Melbourne (all in Australia), and the Child and Family Research Institute (Canada). It was funded by the Georgina Menzies Maconachie Charitable Trust.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal on an open-access basis, meaning the study is free to read online.

The Mail Online’s coverage of the study was accurate.

Comments

No-one has left a comment yet - do you want to be the first?

Sign in

If you want to add a comment, you'll need to create an account or log in first.

Log in Create account

Older articles

vaping

Long-term vaping 'far safer than smoking' says 'landmark' study

"Vaping has been endorsed by health experts after the first long-term study of its effects in ex-smokers," ITV News reports. A six-month study found that e-cigarettes users had far lower levels of toxins and carcinogens in their body than smokers…

947 views
MND

'Breakthrough in communication for patients with severe MND', study claims

"Mind-reading machine allows people with 'locked-in' syndrome to communicate," reports the Mail Online. The report is based on a study that aimed to communicate with four patients unable to speak, move or blink...

1010 views
burnt toast

Warning over 'burnt toast chemical' acrylamide’s cancer risk

"Browned toast and potatoes are 'potential cancer risk', say food scientists," BBC News reports. The FSA has launched a campaign about the possible health risk of acrylamide; a chemical formed when starchy foods are subjected to a high temperature…

837 views