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Probiotics May Treat Colic in Breastfed Babies

Update Date: Oct 07, 2013 08:15 PM EDT

Probiotics may prevent or treat excessive infant crying, according to a new study.

While there is not enough evidence to support using probiotics (Lactobacillus reuteri) to treat colic or prevent crying in formula-fed babies, the latest findings suggest that the supplements could effectively treat colic in babies who are breastfed exclusively.

Lead researcher Valerie Sung, M.P.H., of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and Royal Children's Hospital, Australia, and colleagues looked at 12 studies, which involved data from 1,825 infants three months or younger. Five of the studies looked at the effectiveness of probiotics in the treatment of infant colic and seven looked at their role in infant colic prevention.

The findings revealed that six of the 12 trials suggested probiotics reduced crying and six did not. Researchers also revealed that three of the five management trials concluded probiotics effectively treat colic in breastfed babies, one study suggested effectiveness in formula-fed babies with colic and another suggested ineffectiveness in breastfed babies with colic.

"Larger and more rigorously designed randomized clinical trials are needed to examine the efficacy of the probiotic L reuteri in the management of breastfed and particularly formula-fed infants with colic and in the prevention of colic in healthy term infants," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics

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