Study: Probiotics don’t treat colic

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New research says probiotics might not be as effective at treating colic in infants as previous studies suggested.

Colic is a condition in which infants cry for 3 hours per day, 3 days per week over a 3-week period. Although the cause of colic is unknown, doctors believe that it could be gastrointestinal distress and acid reflux in an infant’s stomach. Previous studies showed that the probiotic lactobacillus reduces the effects of bad bacteria that are in an infant’s stomach and might be effective against colic. However, a study that was published in the journal BMJ in April 2014 found that probiotics aren’t effective at treating colic.

The study separated 167 infants who have colic into groups: One group was given lactobacillus, the other a placebo. After 1 month of observation, the infants who were given lactobacillus cried 49 minutes longer on average than did infants who were in the placebo group.

Dr. Heidi Senokozlieff, who is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic, says smaller but more-frequent feedings can help to relieve stomach problems and stop infants from crying. She adds that thickening formula by adding rice also can help to console infants.