Probiotics

There’s nothing worse than hearing your own baby cry. As a parent, it can be exhausting to figure out what’s causing them to cry.

My new nephew was just born, and every time I called to see how he was doing, I would hear him crying in the background. His mom would have to hold him 24 hours a day, and still he would cry, but she also had two other children to take care of. We recommended he start taking a probiotic, and a week later, he seems much more content and happy, and was crying only when he was hungry, had pooped, or was tired.

Currently one-fifth of babies develop colic, usually between the second and fourth weeks of life. Colic is defined as at least 3 hours of crying, at least 3 times per week, for at least 3 weeks, without a known cause. Colic tends to worsen before it gets better. In addition to colic, many babies have gastrointestinal problems like increased spit-up and trouble pooping. Current research is finding the use of probiotic drops can help.

Use of the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri during the first 3 months of life can significantly reduce colic, regurgitation, and constipation.  Research shows no adverse affects in giving the infants these probiotic drops. A study done on almost 600 newborns from different neonatal intensive care units in Italy found the babies given the probiotic cried half as much as the non-probiotic group, spit up less, and pooped better. So, at least according to this research, some of the hype about probiotics may be true.

Now, not all probiotics are created equal, and different probiotics seem to help children in differrent ways. The type of probiotic that seems to help fussy babies is Lactobacillus reuteri.  One probiotic that has this organism in it is BioGaia. There are different types of probiotics that can help with diarrhea associated with antibiotics and even childhood ezcema.  S boulardiiLactobacillus, and E faecium can help prevent antibiotic associated diarrhea. Lactobacillus GG and Lactobacillus reuteri also help reduce infectious diarrhea. Lactobacillus GG can help with eczema.

If a child is old enough to eat the probiotic, it’s best tolerated through food like yogurt. But not all yogurts have the same probiotic in them. Cuterelle has Lactobacillus GG. Stonyfield yogurt has many active live cultures including Lactobacillus acidophilosL. bulgaris, and L. reuteri. A few brands include Floraster has S. boulardii. Nature’s way enteric coated 35 has many active cultures, including Lactobacillus caseiL. plantarumL. acidophilus. Check the active ingredients in the yogurt or probiotic when choosing which one might be best for your child’s needs, or call our office and check with your provider.

Please note: there is a broad range of reasons why a baby might be fussy — including infant reflex, infections, and even more serious causes — so you should always consult your provider for an assessment. That said, if you see your provider and all those reasons are excluded, a probiotic recommendation for your infant may follow.

I hope this new information can gives parents and babies alike a little more rest in those first few, occasionally fussy months of life.

Dr. Ditte Karlovits joined Kids Plus in 2012.