Colic is the nightmare no parent wants to live through. When your baby wears non-stop for hours on end, you as the parent are powerless to do practically anything about it. Many post-colic parents have said this was not just a rough period, but one of the hardest times in their lives. Colic is particularly difficult because it's so hard to discern the cause. And the emotional distress that is felt by a new parent forced to listen to their baby cry endlessly is incomparable.
Probiotics have been touted by some to be a cure for this crying, one of the safest and most effective of colic remedies. But what are probiotics, and why would they bring colic relief? Baby or adult, we have billions of bacteria, flora and other microbes that live in our gut. These interesting little creatures allow us to get nutrition from food, protect us from harmful bacteria, toxins, and antigens, support the development and functioning of our immune system, and protect us from various infections.
A breastfed newborn gets these microbes from mom but what if mom's bacterial balance is off? In our world of highly processed foods, many of the foods we eat harm or destroy these wonderful little digestive helpers. A healthy lower intestine should contain a ration of 85% friendly bacteria to 15% unfriendly bacteria. This proportion will prevent the overcolonization of the gut by disease-causing agents. However, in most people, this ratio is off, often even 85/15 in favor of the bad bacteria. Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory have concluded that, "a good bacterial balance is a key contributor to our good health."
Your baby is crying non-stop and the doctor has told you, "It is colic, and there is not much you can do but wait it out." The third night has passed without sleep and you're just about willing to try anything for colic relief. Should you go out and buy probiotics or some other colic remedy? Well, the January 2007 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reported on an Italian study testing the effectiveness of the probiotic, lactobacillis reuteri, in treating colic versus the effectiveness of simethicone ( http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi / content / abstract / 119/1 / e124? maxtoshow = & hits = 10 & RESULTFORMAT = & fulltext = colic + and + probiotics & searchid = 1 & FIRSTINDEX = 0 & sortspec = relevance & resourcetype = HWCIT ).
Ninety breastfed colicky infants were either given the symbiotic or the simethicone for 28 days, while in both groups, the mother eliminated cow's milk from her diet. By the end of the study, 95% of the babies in the probiotic group experienced significantly reduced levels of crying (from 159 minutes a day down to 51 minutes a day), whereas only 7% of the babies in the simethicone group experienced less crying – and those reductions were more modest (from 177 minutes a day down to 145 minutes a day). In other words, not only did many more of the babies who received probiotics answer, they responded with vastly reduced crying times in comparison to the simethicone group.
Probiotics are promising and well worth a try, especially given that they will provide a whole host of health benefits to your baby. Seeing as it will take a good month to see the effects on your baby's colic, however, it would make sense to try other colic remedies at the same time.