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Probiotics relieve infant colic

Sunday, December 05, 2010 by: Dr. Randall Neustaedter, OMD
Tags: colic, probiotics, health news

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(NewsTarget) Infant colic causes tremendous distress for parents who have to cope with a suffering baby in obvious pain and hours of daily screaming. A study in the September 2010 issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, provides a simple remedy for these symptoms. A probiotic, Lactobacillus reuteri (pronounced roy-ter-eye) was shown to significantly relieve these symptoms when compared to placebo in a double-blind study (Savino, 2010). This confirms the findings of a previous study that compared the effect of L reuteri to a medication, simethicone (Savino, 2007).

This study, conducted on 50 breastfed infants who cried for at least three hours per day at the beginning of the study, found that L reuteri in a dose of ten billion colony-forming units per day caused at least a 50 percent improvement in crying time. The treatment group also showed an increase in healthy lactobacilli in the stools and a decrease in E coli, a bacterium associated with colic. No side effects occurred as a result of the treatment (Savino, 2009).

Other effective treatments for colic

Probiotics represent a simple solution to treat colic in babies. This supplement combined with other interventions provides help for parents looking for solutions. For example, swaddling babies (wrapping them snugly in a blanket) has been shown to reduce crying times (Van Sleuwan, 2006). Eliminating certain foods from the diet of breastfeeding mothers has also proven to reduce crying. In one study eliminating common allergenic foods (cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and fish) reduced crying in infants (Hill, 2005). Several herbs have proven effective as well. One study evaluated the effect of a popular tea containing chamomile, fennel, vervain, licorice, and balm mint in a double-blind clinical trial. The group that received the tea showed significant improvement in symptoms compared to placebo (Weizman, 1993).

Other treatments commonly used for colic in holistic pediatrics include chiropractic, homeopathic medicines, acupuncture, and Chinese pediatric herbal formulas (Neustaedter, 2010). Relief of neck tension through chiropractic adjustment is thought to reduce the nerve irritation that triggers digestive symptoms and crying, and one study showed a significant improvement from adjusting the spine (Olafsdottir, 2001). Chinese herbal formulas such as Kang Ning Wan (Curing Pill), or its modern counterpart Grow and Thrive, that contain hyancinth bean, Chinese yam, lyceum, poria, and other herbs have been used successfully and safely for hundreds of years to treat infantile colic.


Hill DJ, Roy N, et al. Effect of a low-allergen maternal diet on colic among breastfed infants: A randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics 2005, 116(5): November: e709-e715.

Neustaedter R. The Holistic Baby Guide: Alternative Care for Common Health Problems. 2010, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland, CA.

Olafsdottir E, Forshei S, Fluge G, and Markestad T. Randomised controlled trial of infantile colic treated with chiropractic spinal manipulation. Archives of Diseases of Children, February 1, 2001; 84(2):138-141.

Savino F, Pelle E, Palumeri E, Oggero R, Miniero R. Lactobacillus reuteri (American type culture collection strain 55 730) versus simethicone in the treatment of infantile colic: a prospective randomized study. Pediatrics. 2007;119(1).

Savino F, Cordisco L, Tarasco V, Calabrese R, Palumeri E, Matteuzzi D. Molecular identification of coliform bacteria from colicky breastfed infants. Acta Paediatrica. 2009;98(10):1582-1588.

Savino F, Cordisco L, Tarasco V, Palumeri E, Calabrese R, Oggero R, Roos S, Matteuzzi D. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 in infantile colic: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2010 Sep;126(3):e526-33.

Van Sleuwen BE, L'hoir MP, et al. Comparison of behavior modification with and without swaddling as interventions for excessive crying. Journal of Pediatrics 2006 Oct;149(4):512-7.

Weizman Z, Alkrinawi S, Goldfarb D, Bitran C. Efficacy of herbal tea preparation in infantile colic. Journal of Pediatrics 1993;122:650-2.

About the author

Dr. Randall Neustaedter, OMD, has practiced and taught holistic medicine for more than thirty years in the San Francisco Bay area, specializing in child health care. He is a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of Chinese medicine, author of The Holistic Baby Guide, Child Health Guide and The Vaccine Guide. Visit his website, www.cure-guide.com, to register for a free newsletter with pediatric specialty articles and follow him on Facebook, username cureguide1 or Dr. Randall Neustaedter, OMD.

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