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Can Probiotics Prevent Colic in Newborns?

With its sleepless nights and frustration, every parent dreads colic. Fortunately, a new study has hopeful news: according to a study from Aldo Moro University in Italy, giving your baby a probiotic during the first three months of life may prevent colic in newborns.

The research is one of several recent studies focusing on whether probiotics reduces the frequency of colic in babies. A baby is considered “colicky” when he or she cries for more than three hours a day, and the crying is not caused by a medical issue. Colic usually starts after the third week and peaks around the fourth to sixth week of age. Symptoms usually become less severe by the sixth week and disappear sometime around the 12th week.

In the study, giving newborns the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri for the first three months of life appeared to reduce colic caused by gastrointestinal problems. The supplement was associated with fewer bouts of crying and stomach discomfort compared to a placebo.

Over 500 newborns in Italy took part in the study. Parents were asked to record the number of vomiting episodes and bowel movements, the duration of inconsolable crying, and number of pediatrician visits.

The infants who received a probiotic showed a reduction in crying time, vomiting and frequency of bowel movements compared to the placebo group, according to the researchers from Aldo Moro University, Italy. The article was published January 13, 2014 in the issue of JAMA Pediatrics. The study was funded by BioGaia AB, Sweden, the company that manufactures the probiotic drops used in the study.

Probiotics are live bacteria that improve how our bodies function. It is important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any health claims for probiotics. Nevertheless, probiotics have gained popularity for promoting healthy digestion.

Other studies on the impact of probiotics have had more mixed results: some researchers found a possible connection between probiotic and relief from colic while others found no significant benefit to reducing colic.

Although more research is needed, it may be worth talking with your pediatrician about adding probiotics to your newborn’s diet.


  • EurekaAlert
  • Study examines probiotic use in preventing gastrointestinal disorders in infants.
  • Colic and crying.
    National Institutes of Health
  • Are Probiotics Good for Your Health?

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