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Probiotics May Reduce Gastrointestinal Problems in Babies

Update Date: Jan 13, 2014 05:13 PM EST

Giving babies probiotics may reduce their risk of developing gastrointestinal disorders, according to a new study.

A new study of 554 newborns in Italy revealed that infants given the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri during the first three months of life were less likely to suffer common gastrointestinal disorders like infant colic, acid reflux and constipation.

Researchers explained that these disorders often lead to hospitalization, feeding changes, use of drugs, parental anxiety and loss of parental working days.

In the study, babies in nine pediatric units in Italy received either the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 (L reuteri DSM 17938) or placebo for 90 days. The parents were asked to document the number of vomiting episodes and evacuations (emptying of the bowels), the duration of inconsolable crying and the number of pediatrician visits.

For the study, researchers measured changes in daily crying time, vomiting, constipation and the cost benefits of probiotic supplement use during the 90-day period.

The findings revealed that the probiotics reduced average crying time, regurgitations, and evacuations per day. Their use was also linked to $119 average savings per patient in each family.

"Driving a change of colonization during the first weeks of life through giving lactobacilli may promote an improvement in intestinal permeability; visceral sensitivity and mast cell density and probiotic administration may represent a new strategy for preventing these conditions, at least in predisposed children," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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