Lactobacillus Reuteri Is Safe, Effective for Colicky Infants

Improvements may be due to gut microbiota changes induced by the probiotic in breast-fed babies
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri) appears to be a safe and effective treatment for infantile colic in breast-fed infants, and gut microbiota changes induced by this probiotic may play a role in symptom improvements, according to research published online Aug. 16 in Pediatrics.

In a double-blind trial, Francesco Savino, M.D., of the Regina Margherita Children's Hospital in Turin, Italy, and colleagues randomly assigned 50 exclusively breast-fed infants with colic to either L. reuteri DSM 17 938 or placebo. They monitored daily crying time and adverse effects through parental questionnaires, and collected stool samples for microbiologic analysis.

The researchers found that minutes per day spent crying were 370 in the treatment group versus 300 in the placebo group on day zero (P = .127), and 35 in the treatment group versus 90 in the control group on day 21 (P = .022). The number of babies whose crying time fell by at least 50 percent was significantly higher in the treatment group on days seven, 14, and 21. A significant increase in fecal lactobacilli and reduction in fecal Escherichia coli and ammonia occurred only in the treatment group. Between the two groups, there were no differences in incidence of constipation or regurgitation, weight gain, or stooling frequency, and there were no adverse events related to the supplementation. The authors concluded that gut microbiota changes caused by L. reuteri could have a role in the clinical improvement seen in the treated infants.

"These findings provide important insights into the role of an aberrant bacterial flora in the pathogenesis of infantile colic and the potential to overcome this with probiotic supplementation," the authors write.

The study was funded by BioGaia AB, which develops, manufactures, and markets probiotic products.

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