Acid Reflux

Reducing Colic in Babies with Probiotics

When I had my first baby, I was so excited to be called a mother and to show the world my newborn baby. I did not realize that there were many types of gastrointestinal disorders for newborns out there.  The most common among infants in their first six months of life include colic, acid reflux, and constipation.

Baby colic (also known as infantile colic) is defined as “episodes of crying for more than three hours a day for more than three days a week for three weeks in an otherwise healthy child between the ages of two weeks and four months”.

Acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), is one of the most common infant feeding problems; with around 25 percent of all babies experience some degree of it.

Constipation –  well, we’ve all been there at some point in our lives, but when an infant’s has it, it can break your heart.

 Pediatricians often prescribe medications, among other ways to calm a baby that is suffering from gastrointestinal upset. Previous studies have shown that  probiotics can help reduce kid’s diarrhea when antibiotics are prescribed. We know too, that taking  probiotics everyday can benefit our digestive tract.

A new study has found another positive effect of probiotics: there are fewer doctor visits for babies – so there’s a way to save some money now.

 A new study led by Dr. Flavia Indrio at Aldo Moro University of Bari in Italy, on infants and probiotics, published in JAMA Pediatrics, shows that using probiotics in infants may lead to lower health costs associated with gastrointestinal disorders.

Researchers examined 554 newborns under a week old and were born between September 2010 and October 2012. The infants either received a placebo or a probiotic supplement that contained Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 bacteria everyday for 90 days.

The parents were required to keep a journal that included how often the child regurgitated milk or formula and emptied their bowels, the duration of inconsolable crying, and the number of doctor visits.

At the end of the three months, researchers found that the infants who took the daily probiotic;

emptied their bowels more times more than the placebo group

– had lower averages of regurgitation compared to the placebo group

– had shorter periods of inconsolable crying

Researchers also determined that using probiotics saved each patient over 100 dollars in medical costs, and there were no adverse health effects from taking a daily probiotic.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology Nutrition in 2007, showed that infants who were formula fed and given a prebiotic mixture had normal growth and stools similar to those who are breast-fed. Prebiotics are nondigestable carbohydrates that act as food for the probiotics, which is fuel for the probiotics to survive, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Prebiotics are found in whole grains, onions, garlic, honey, and artichokes, and probiotics are found in yogurt. When prebiotics & probiotics are combined they form a synbiotic. Fermented dairy products such as kefir are synbiotic because they contain both.

 Study Outcome:

This new study found that probiotics can help decrease vomiting and the duration of inconsolable crying – and increase the number of times that newborns were able to empty their bowels, even in formula-fed infants, who are more prone to constipation.

Had I known then, what I know now….I would have given my newborn probiotics.  But, better late than never, we are all on probiotics today.