Infant Colics, Promising Science on Probiotics

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I remember only too well the heartache of a screaming baby in the evenings! I was a new mother, my baby was 2 weeks old and nothing I tried, to appease her, worked.
The screams would pierce right through my heart, only to then, grab a hold of it and keep it tight for the next 2 hours. Then she turned 4 months and all of a sudden it stopped. This was not colics then? Or was it?

No clear definition of colics

It’s interesting that there isn’t a clear definition of what colics are, the jury is still out! Your baby is otherwise healthy, growing well, has a clean nappy, is fed and burped, you have done all the basics right, yet they are very unsettled. Although the word itself seems to be related to something that’s not quite right with guts, tummy and gas, few studies have highlighted gastrointestinal discomfort as being a possible cause.

To the American Paediatric association “infantile colics or paroxysmal fussing typically begins in the second week of life and ceases at about eight weeks. It is possibly one of the earliest somatic responses to the presence of tension in the environment”. Some parents are adamant that their child is in pain, others that he simply is overwhelmed by his day…

The great news is that symptoms will dissipate and eventually disappear.

One way to better appreciate what is going on is to think about your baby’s nervous system, guts included, going through a maturation process complete with up and downs.

So everyone take a deep breath, and try some soothing music for yourself, or your favourite yoga move: these difficult times shall pass. That is unless you child is part of the minority of children who have an allergy to cows milk proteins, including those you consume if you breastfeed.

All you need to do at this stage is to monitor your baby and talk to your GP if something worries you, please do not start ruling foods out, you need evidence to do so.

I understand it’s easy to say that colics will stop by themselves when I have not heard your child’s heart-wrenching cry and seen their tensed-up little face. In fact, I totally get it, you want a cure, now.

I know you are after a cure

There are lots of over-the-counter remedies, of course, but I couldn’t find any evidence that they work (so why waste your money?). If they work, your baby is probably at the age when symptoms improve…

Then there are probiotics. It is no secret that I am a big fan of the research that goes on in the field of the microbiome and that I apply it to the advice I give.

So here are the encouraging news. Past studies have failed to identify the benefits of probiotics for colics, until the team at Melbourne uni, recently decided to have another go. This time round, they looked at 4 double blind, placebo controlled trials and concluded that those produced encouraging results.

They noted a sensible reduction in crying, which is probably every parents’ dream.

The only caveat? The team did not have enough data to draw conclusions on formula-fed babies, therefore the efficacy is shown for breastfed babies only at this stage, i.e the probiotic supplement is taken by mothers and provided to babies through breast milk.

Before you rush out to buy probiotics, please note that a specific strain of bacteria has been identified to work: L reuteri. You can buy it online, at the chemist or the health shop.

If your baby is colicky then surely this study is what you needed to direct you, to buy a proven, promising solution. Let me know how this works for you.

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