Today (February 14, 2011) in the New York Times (online) Anahad O’Connor gives probiotics due recognition for helping colicky babies.
Probiotics are beneficial bacterial that live in the intestinal tract. The primary difference between the “good “ bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is that the “good” bacteria produce alkaline waste products and the “bad” bacteria produce acidic wast products. The acidic waste products that are produced by the “bad” bacteria can then inflame the intestinal lining leading to pain, discomfort, gas, bloating, constipation, and even toxicity to name a few. The “good” and “bad” bacteria compete for the same food source, so by having more “good” bacteria in the intestines it keeps the “bad” bacteria in check. Both forms of bacteria are in our intestines at all times (they are considered normal intestinal flora), however it is very important to maintain the healthy balance between the two.
Infants typical get these “good” bacteria from mother’s milk, if the mother is not deficient. When a baby is fed formulas and such they typically do not get these “good” bacteria. When this occurs the “bad” bacteria overrun the intestines and can result in Colic.
Colic is not well understood, but it is estimated that approximately 20% of babies suffer from this painful condition. There have been many theories studied by scientists to determine the cause. Some of these theories included, but not limited to, allergies, hormones in milk, stress in the womb as well as this current theory of a deficiency in “good” bacteria within the babies intestines.
A 2010 study preformed showed that when colicky babies were given probiotic supplements they cried almost 50% less than those who received no treatment(1).
Probiotics are easily accessible at nutritional stores. They are best utilized on an empty stomach. Consult a Physician before beginning any new supplement regimen.
(1) Pediatrics. 2010 Sep;126(3):e526-33. Epub 2010 Aug 16.Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 in infantile colic: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Savino F, Cordisco L, Tarasco V, Palumeri E, Calabrese R, Oggero R, Roos S, Matteuzzi D.