Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
  |  Connect with Us: 
Text Size

Health News

Probiotics Not Shown to Soothe Babies' Colic, Review Finds

Probiotics Not Shown to Soothe Babies' Colic, Review Finds


MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Although the use of probiotics is growing in popularity among parents hoping to treat infant colic, there is no clear evidence that it helps, Australian researchers report.

Their review of 12 studies on the subject found conflicting results, with some saying the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri is effective in breast-fed infants, but not in those being fed formula.

"We need further studies to clarify this," said lead researcher Valerie Sung, at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and Royal Children's Hospital, in Parkville.

Probiotics are live bacteria used in foods and supplements and intended to help people with digestive problems, although the jury is still out on their effectiveness.

Infant colic is defined as excessive crying or fussing for no apparent reason. Although the causes of colic are uncertain, one possibility is that it stems from babies having trouble with digestion.

When colic is a problem, Sung advises seeing a doctor and following their advice. "Unfortunately, there isn't very much that can be done," she said.

The new study was published online Oct. 7 in JAMA Pediatrics.

One U.S. expert did not express strong support for using probiotics to soothe infants with colic.

"Probiotics will work for some infants," said Dr. Gloria Riefkohl, a pediatrician at Miami Children's Hospital. "But I won't say probiotics is the way to go."

"First and foremost, parents need to go to their pediatrician. Most of the time this occurs in infants between 6 weeks to 3 months of age," she said. "Most of the time, infant colic is short-term, it disappears, it goes away."

Riefkohl said that diagnosing colic is a matter of excluding other conditions and that other factors -- such as whether the child is gaining weight, sleeping and eating well -- need to be taken into account.

"We shouldn't say every infant needs probiotics," Riefkohl said. "It's not going to work with every child."

Riefkohl said she would like to see conclusive evidence that probiotics work before using them. "That's important, particularly when we are going to use anything in infants," she said.

For the study, Sung's team reviewed 12 clinical trials in which a total of 1,825 infants were randomly assigned to receive probiotics, placebos or no treatment. This type of study, called a meta-analysis, tries to find common patterns across several studies. In this case, no common patterns emerged, only conflicting ones.

Five trials looked at the effectiveness of probiotics for treating colic and seven looked at preventing colic.

In all, six trials suggested that probiotics reduced crying and six found they did not. Of five studies focused on managing colic, three said probiotics treated colic in breast-fed babies, one trial suggested probiotics might be effective in formula-fed babies with colic and one found probiotics were ineffective in breast-fed babies with colic. Of the seven prevention studies, only two suggested possible benefits, the researchers found.

They called for larger and better-designed clinical trials to determine whether the probiotic helps manage and prevent colic in healthy infants on varying feeding regimens.

More information

For more about colic, visit the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


Latest News

CNY Brain Aneurysm Awareness Campaign Raises Funds for Crouse Neuroscience Institute
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >