It’s a problem many new parents are more than familiar with: a fussing, crying baby, with no obvious explanation as to why.
When otherwise healthy, happy babies cry for prolonged periods several days a week, it’s known as colic.
And as any mum or dad who has experienced a colicky baby will testify, you’ll do anything to help soothe them, whether that’s a 4am drive in the car or a never ending, jiggly walk round the house.
So parents of babies with colic will likely rejoice at the news that a specific probiotic could help to reduce the condition for babies who are less than three months old.
Until now, there has been no effective treatment for the largely unexplained condition that affects one in five healthy babies.
While crying is normal in babies, those with colic can cry inconsolably for more than three hours at a time several times a week, with it usually peaking around the age of six to eight weeks.
But a study, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and published in the American Academy of Pedriatics, found that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri could reduce crying in breast-fed babies.
Researchers analysed four randomised, controlled studies looking at 345 babies with colic over the course of 21 days and found that compared to a placebo, the babies in the probiotic group were two times more likely to reduce crying by 50 per cent, but only in babies who were exclusively breastfed.
But before parents of colicky babies start stockpiling Lactobacillus reuteri, it is important to note that only one of the four studies included babies who were formula fed. This means it is pretty tricky to draw any firm conclusions on the effect of the probiotic on infants who are fed via a bottle – rather than the breast.
And while the news will likely give hope to sleep deprived parents, it is worth remembering that there remains no quick-fix cure for babies with colic just yet.
What’s more researchers also noted that the levels of colic in the infants seemed to reduce over time, whether they were given the probiotic or not.
Nevertheless, for new mums and dads desperate to soothe their babies, the idea that using a probiotic could result in less crying a few weeks earlier than their baby’s colic would naturally reduce is a chance worth taking.
And hopefully the strive for a complete colic cure will continue.
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