Probiotics are live bacteria in food that may enhance the good bacteria in our bodies, helping to ease certain gastrointestinal complaints like gas, bloating and diarrhea.
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So it’s no surprise probiotics’ potential gastrointestinal-soothing benefits have led some anxious parents to try using them to help their colicky, crying babies, too.
‘Jury out’ on using probiotics
But a new Australian study finds insufficient evidence to support using probiotics to manage colic or prevent crying in infants.
Tara Harwood did not take part in the study but is a pediatric registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
“The jury really is still out whether or not this is effective for managing some of your baby’s gastrointestinal issues such as colic, which is the number one complaint that I see,” says Ms. Harwood.
Study has a split decision
Researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute looked at 12 studies, involving nearly 2,000 infants, ages 3 months and younger. The results were published online in JAMA Pediatrics.
Five of the studies examined how effective probiotics were in treating colic. The other seven studies examined probiotics’ role in possibly preventing it.
According to the studies, six of them suggested that probiotics reduced crying, and six did not. So researchers concluded that larger, more rigorous studies are needed to determine if probiotics can truly be effective in managing colic or not.
Talk to the pediatrician first
Ms. Harwood says there are lots of reasons your infant could be fussy aside from GI issues, such as weight gain or not sleeping or eating well.
While probiotics should have no adverse effects, before starting them Ms. Harwood advises that parents talk to their baby’s doctor.
“Talk to your pediatrician, your pediatric gastroenterologist or pediatric dietitian to make sure that this is an appropriate product for your child,” she says.