AAP: Probiotics Might Help Colic After All

But you'll want to read the fine print.
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ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Jan 2018
colic in babies, newborn baby crying

It’s been years of do-they-or-don’t-they, but a new AAP review of colic-related studies says probiotics probably do reduce crying and fussiness in babies. But before you start to medicate, there’s a few things you should know about the findings.

First of all, this analysis is focusing on the use of one probiotic in particular: lactobacillus reuteri. Second, because only one of the four studies that the AAP reviewed involved formula-fed babies, the potential effectiveness only applies to breastfed babies. With that in mind, here’s what researchers found.

Colic—defined as unexplained crying for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, for more than three weeks—decreased in 58 percent of breastfed babies who received the probiotic for 14 days and 78 percent of breastfed babies who received it for 21 days. Still, researchers aren’t ready to recommend a probiotic regimen for infants.

“To assist treatment decisions, we also need to know how long an infant’s crying will last with treatment versus without treatment and how many infants will continue to cry even with treatment,” writes Dr. Ian St. James-Roberts in a commentary on the study. He explains that even infants not given a probiotic will see a drop in colic over time—eventually. “Rather than prescribing L reuteri as a universal treatment for breastfed infants with colic, clinicians may wish to take parents’ geographic location, treatment preferences, and the limitations to its effectiveness into account.”

If you’re interested in giving probiotics a go regardless, talk to your pediatrician first.

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