Can probiotics make colic worse? This is a vital question for any parent who has a baby suffering. Firstly, you do not want to make anything worse for the baby and secondly, you do not want to waste precious time for the baby to get well.
When you have a baby, it’s hard not to worry about everything. One of the first worries parents have is if their new bundle of joy will suffer from colic.
Colic causes your little one to cry for hours on end and nobody really knows what causes it or how to fix it.
You may be wondering if probiotics can make colic worse for your baby but don’t know where to start researching.
In this article, we look at what you can do to help you make an informed decision and
Is the colic plaguing your baby getting worse?
It may be due to probiotics. As you know, colic is a condition that causes uncontrollable crying in babies and can last for months at a time.
You might not realize it but many parents wonder if something they’re adding to their diet could be causing this painful symptom.
One of these things is probiotics and there’s evidence that shows that this “good” bacteria can make colic worse!
Can probiotics make colic worse for a baby?
The short answer is: we don’t know. It depends on the baby and their colic symptoms. But, let’s explore…
Colic is generally defined as inconsolable crying for three or more hours a day, at least three days a week. In this case, “inconsolable” means that nothing you do for your child seems to help – not soothing them with food or drink, movement or distraction techniques – nothing.
Not to mention that it can be exhausting for parents who have been doing all they can to calm down their little one each night and wonder if anything will ever work.
The good news? Colicky babies often become children with happy dispositions, but only when grown out of the colic phase.
Extensive research into colic
The medical community has come to the conclusion after extensive research that colic itself is not an illness or disease, but instead a symptom of something else going on in your child’s body.
According to scientists, it’s the result of immature digestive systems and intestinal tracts that are filled with gas-causing babies discomfort.
While most cases of colic resolve around 6 months of age, there are some infants who experience severe symptoms until they’re 13-14 months old… or even older!
So why do researchers believe that this condition is related to gastrointestinal problems? Because when healthy bacteria populations flourish in our bodies, our health is at its best – be it mental, physical, or behavioral.
Conversely, when harmful bacteria take over in our gut (large intestine), bad things tend to happen.
In the case of babies, their digestive systems are still developing and not yet ready for food that adults can digest more easily (including bread, vegetables, and grains…), which gets trapped in the large intestine where bacteria like to grow.
This imbalance in gut health is referred to as “dysbiosis”, and it occurs in colicky babies because they’re unable to release the gas inside their stomachs like most people do when they burp or pass gas naturally.
As a result, bubbles of air get stuck inside the intestines creating pressure on babies’ bellies making them very uncomfortable until this excess gas finally gets released.
While colic symptoms go away with time once your baby’s poop becomes firmer (your pediatrician may suggest giving your child simethicone drops to make this process move along faster), scientists think there are ways parents can help lessen their infant’s discomfort in the meantime.
And that includes looking into probiotics.
What do scientists say about using probiotics for colicky babies?
Researchers have found that when infants with digestive problems consume beneficial bacteria either in food or supplements, it tends to reduce intestinal gas and re-establish healthy gut functions for better immunity.
They also believe that by balancing out harmful bacteria populations in an infant’s gastrointestinal tract, they may be able to decrease the potential of developing chronic health issues later on in life.
Many studies have been done showing certain strains of beneficial bacteria are effective against numerous conditions, including one study where infants were given probiotics to see if it would help with colic.
Researchers found that when infants were given Lactobacillus reuteri, they experienced significantly less crying (about 40 minutes during the first month of treatment compared to more than 2 hours at the start).
Another study involved children between 6 and 36 months taking supplements containing different types of bacteria (including Lactobacillus plantarum, Enterococcus faecium, and Bifidobacterium lactis) who experienced notable reductions in abdominal pain after just 7 days.
In both studies mentioned above, researchers concluded that these positive results could have been due to a few things: reduction in intestinal gas, inflammation, or bloating associated with digestive problems…
Or perhaps it’s due to an increase in healthy bacteria populations after taking probiotics. And if you’d like to know how they came up with this conclusion, here’s what the scientists had to say:
“A number of studies have demonstrated that both orally and perorally administered probiotic formulations can help establish gastrointestinal (GI) microflora, increase fecal lactic acid and short chain fatty acids (SCFA), and decrease intestinal pH. One possible explanation for the GI benefits of probiotics is that by decreasing luminal pH and thus inhibiting growth of potential pathogens , e.g., Escherichia coli and Clostridium difficile, probiotics may reduce small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO has been shown to cause gas production and bloating.”
What are some probiotics that can help with colic symptoms?
If you’re wondering which specific strains of good bacteria may be effective against gas, pain, the intensity of crying spells, constipation or diarrhea problems, scientists suggest the following:
- Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 (most studies were done using this strain)
- Bifidobacterium animalis DN 173 010 (similar results in infants as L. reuteri)
- Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
- Bifidobacterium lactis DN 173 010
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Lactococcus lactis ssp. cremoris
Choosing the best probiotic for colic
When you’re selecting a probiotic, keep in mind that certain strains are better at surviving high temperatures and low acidity levels when they pass through the digestive system.
If you live in the U.S., here are some products to help you narrow down your list of choices:
- Culturelle Digestive Health Probiotic – provides 5 billion CFU/g of Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 6475, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, Bifidobacterium animalis DN 173 010
- Florastor Kids StrainIT – stretching the diffusion one kid at a time, this formula contains L. reuteri and B. lactis, and has a shelf life of 2 years (one year after opening)
- Pro-Kids – contains Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1 , and Bifidobacterium longum JY-MC10
- Like Florastor, it was specially formulated for kids but is listed as non-GMO on the company’s website (Florastor states that its product does not contain GMOs)
- Culturelle also offers a probiotic specifically designed for infants called Baby Daily Probiotic Complete
It is important to remember that probiotics are not a cure for colic. Rather, they may help the intestinal tract stay in balance and reduce symptoms of colicky pain.
The best way to find out if your baby has colic or another gastrointestinal problem is by consulting with your pediatrician.
However, dietary changes can be helpful when treating infantile bowel disease caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria such as H pylori (a type of bacteria found in children who suffer from stomach problems).
A study done on 28 infants enrolled between ages 8-24 weeks old showed that those given Lactobacillus GG were more likely than those without it to experience relief from chronic crying and fussing due to abdominal discomfort within one week.
Ultimately, trying various probiotics will give you a unique perspective into your own child’s health, but as always if in doubt, seek medical advice to be reassured.
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