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Health Team

Probiotics could help soothe colicky babies

Posted August 23, 2010

By day, 4-month-old Everly Weinholtz is a normal baby – crying only when she's hungry or tired – but at night, colic turns her into another child, her mother says.

"She screams. She yells. She turns beet red. She clenches her fist like she's fighting someone," Ali Weinholtz describes.

Now, there could be some help for mothers like Weinholtz to soothe their infants.

A study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that infants who took a daily drop of probiotic supplement cried one-third less than babies who didn't.

Probiotics, which can be found in yogurt and some yeast products, are healthy bacteria that help keep the intestines working properly.

"If there are less spasms and the muscles don't contract so strong, the baby won't feel pain," says Dr. Joseph Levy, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at New York University's Langone Medical Center.

Colic, which babies usually outgrow by 6 months old, affects up to 28 percent of infants, but doctors aren't sure what causes it.

When diagnosing the condition, doctors refer to the Rule of Three's – crying for more than three hours, at least three days a week, for at least three weeks.

Probiotic products for babies are already on the market but more studies are needed before probiotics can be used to treat colic.

Levy says parents should check with their pediatrician before adding any to their child's diet.

"Not every probiotic is the same, and not every baby that cries has colic," he says.

7 Comments

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  • HowManyOunces Aug 30, 2010

    "Exactly, arnolds. Human milk for human babies is the healthiest option...in a world where parents claim that they'd "do anything" for their child."

    My first was a premie and my breast milk made him extremely sick. His little body could not digest it and he was losing weight and becoming malnourished. We had to put him on a VERY EXPENSIVE specialty formula and did not have anymore problem. My second was full term and exclusively breastfed for the entire 1st year (he weaned himself). We never had any problems with him. Every baby is different. I would never chastise a mom for not breastfeeding, b/c I know how horrible I felt when I realized that my milk was hurting my baby.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Aug 30, 2010

    Exactly, arnolds. Human milk for human babies is the healthiest option...in a world where parents claim that they'd "do anything" for their child.

  • arnolds Aug 27, 2010

    breastmilk is easily digested and babies that are breastfeed or giving pumped breastmilk have a lower chance of suffering from colic.

  • blessedx6 Aug 27, 2010

    My grandma's advice of a few drops of Karo syrup in my baby's bottle worked wonders. Of course, I was a 19-year-old mother with no experience, and that was over 40 years ago so I'm sure the world is much "smarter" now. However I do have a very well adjusted and physically fit 41-year-son now...

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Aug 27, 2010

    Regardless of whether you think probiotics are a drug or not, it's something that you have to administer to your child, because you've got him/her drinking milk from another species. That's my point. Humans have not evolved to require non-human milk.

    And, maybe in your world "a baby less than a year would be drinking cow's milk anyway", but not everyone subscribes to this unnatural behavior.

    You may want to do some research on the antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, etc. that you're pumping into your infant.

    But, you do seem to have one thing right...all of this seems to save YOU a lot of trouble.

  • busyb97 Aug 26, 2010

    First off- probiotics are NOT drugs...Do your research on that. It's as natural as breast milk. They do have it in powder form for children obviously- for those who aren't getting enough naturally, or need more.

    Second- a baby less than a year would be drinking cow's milk anyway, and breast milk isn't always the answer either. My second child was quite colicky and I did breast feed exclusively at the time. Our only relief ended up being "The Happiest Baby on the Block" methods (swaddling, etc).

    As an adult, probiotics have saved me HUGE amounts of problems...especially after severe food poisoning. It was what ultimately restored my system to health (took 2 years)...since "conventional medicine" just made it worse. I'm sure it would be a very good thing (in the right amounts) for a child!

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Aug 26, 2010

    Either breastfeed the child or, at the very least, stop feeding it cow's milk. Then, maybe you don't have to drug him. Is it really so radical to say that cow's milk is for cows?

    http://www.dumpdairy.com/babycolic.asp