Probiotic drops could help treat colic in newborn babies as a certain strain of the ‘good bacteria’ can HALVE the time newborns spend crying
- A reduction in colic was seen after one month of probiotic use
- Daily crying halved in up to 80 per cent of the 40 infants in the study
- The probiotic strain BB-12 improved gut bacteria which may help digestion
A certain type of probiotic could help treat colic in newborn babies, according to a study.
Forty infants received drops of BB-12, a strain which boosts gut bacteria that control bowel movements, once a day for a month.
Italian researchers found the duration of daily crying halved among 80 per cent of the youngsters.
Colic affects one in four infants in the first three months of life and is a major source of major distress for babies and their families.
Parents will try rocking their baby to stop the crying. The NHS says probiotic or ‘anti-colic drops’ have little evidence of working.
Duration of daily crying halved in 80 per cent of the 40 infants who received a probiotic strain once daily for a month (stock)
The new study, led by the University of Naples, supports some previous trials which suggest the BB-12 strain can help with colic.
Some doctors believe stomach pain and difficulties digesting food cause colic. But there is no obvious cause to the condition.
The study gave 40 babies the drops of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12. Forty others got a placebo.
Duration of daily crying reduced by more than 50 per cent in 36 babies given BB-12. This was compared to 32.5 per cent of those given the placebo.
WHAT CAN HELP COLIC?
A baby with colic cries a lot as well as clenching their fists, going bed in the face and arching their back.
Health visitors and doctors will usually advise to:
- hold or cuddle your baby when they’re crying a lot
- sit or hold your baby upright during feeding to stop them swallowing air
- wind your baby after feeds
- gently rock your baby over your shoulder
- gently rock your baby in their Moses basket or crib, or push them in their pram
- bath your baby in a warm bath
- have some gentle white noise like the radio or TV in the background to distract them keep feeding your baby as usual
Other remedies mothers hear about are anti-colic drops, herbal and probiotic supplements, changes to their diet if they’re breastfeeding or applying gentle pressure to your baby’s spine (spinal manipulation) or skull (cranial osteopathy).
But the NHS says there is little evidence for these so far.
Colic usually goes away on it’s own after six months, which may explain the high placebo rate. However the researchers did not address this.
Improvements in sleep duration, stool frequency and consistency were recorded in the probiotic group, the researchers also found.
Faecal samples showed a boost in good gut bacteria, strengthening evidence that colic may be caused by an imbalance.
Production of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid thought to regulate the digestion of food and tackle constipation, was also higher.
Some studies have shown that butyrate has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the ability to regulate pain perception.
Senior author Dr Roberto Berni Canani said: ‘Our study provides evidence on the important role of gut microbiota as a target of intervention against infant colic.
‘It is relevant to underline this trial studied a specific well-characterized probiotic strain, and that these findings cannot be extrapolated for other probiotic strains.’
The findings were published in the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics journal.
A baby is considered to have colic if they cry more than three hours a day, three days a week for at least one week.
It is a source of major distress for the infants and their families, and could lead to maternal postpartum depression and parental guilt.
The research team also warn it can cause frustration, which may lead to shaken baby syndrome – when a parent shakes a baby because the baby will not stop crying.
Bifidobacteria belong to a group of bacteria called lactic acid bacteria which can be found in fermented foods like yogurt and cheese.
Supplements often contain a mix of Bifidobacteria strains. The BB-12 strain is one of the more researched in human clinical trials.