Colic occurs during the first three months of an infant’s life in which an otherwise healthy child cries and cannot be comforted for three hours or more every day. Colic affects up to 28% of infants and has no known cause or cure.
However, recent research suggests colic may linked to an immature immune system struggling with bacterial imbalances in the gastrointestinal tract, and that high levels of E. coli bacteria in particular may contribute to colic symptoms. Some researchers question whether symptoms could be alleviated using probiotic therapy, or “healthy” bacteria to restore bacterial balance in the gut.
The researchers who led the study discovered that infants who received drops of Lactobacillus reuteri showed a greater reduction in crying — from a mean of 370 minutes of crying per day at the start of the study to 35 minutes. The babies who received a placebo dropped from a mean of 300 minutes of crying per day to 90 minutes. Researchers speculate infants in the placebo group may have experienced an improvement because of reduced cow’s milk in the mother’s diet.
Overall, the findings support that Lactobacillus reuteri may help reduce colic symptoms by improving gut motility and function, which could reduce gas in the gastrointestinal tract and abdominal pain and cramping.