Having a colicky baby usually means one thing for moms: they're desperate to put their crying little bundles of joy at ease. And that often means car rides around the block at 4 a.m., a never-ending stream of lullabies, and a whole lot of bouncing on mama's lap, usually to no avail. Thankfully, research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics may have led to a discovery that could help moms soothe their colicky babies: a probiotic that can be found in the vitamin aisle of the supermarket.
Although there's no hard and fast medical definition for colic, experts typically rely on the "Rule of 3s," which states that if a baby has been crying for more than three hours a day for three days a week over the course of three weeks, they may be colicky. So it's no surprise that moms would be looking desperately for ways to soothe their babies with colic, especially for their own sanity.
The authors of the recent study analyzed four randomized, controlled studies and discovered that a probiotic, formally known as Lactobacillus reuteri DSM17938, might reduce crying in colicky babies who are breastfed. The four separate double-blind studies looked at 345 babies with colic over the span of 21 days and found that those who were given these probiotics cried less compared to infants who were given a placebo. Researchers found that after 14 days, 58 percent of breastfed infants who were receiving the probiotic "improved," which was defined as a 50 percent (or more) "reduction in crying and/or fussing time" from the beginning of the study. By day 21, over two-thirds of that group were experiencing less fussing and crying. Phew, talk about some much-needed relief for both mama and baby.
It's important to keep in mind that only one of the four studies included babies who were formula fed, making it impossible to draw any definite conclusions about the effects of the probiotic on infants in that respect. And while this research can no doubt give sleep-deprived mamas a ray of hope — especially if their babies are breastfed — there's no hard and fast cure for babies with colic just yet. Researchers also noted that the levels of colic in the infants seemed to reduce over time, regardless of whether they were given the probiotic or not.
Dr. Javay Ross, a primary care pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland who read the study, said she's encouraged by these early findings. "We're just in the beginning stages of general pediatricians incorporating this into practice," Ross told HuffPo. "A year from now, we'll have a better sense of whether this is a game changer for real."
For moms who are desperate to soothe their babies, the chance that using this probiotic could result in less crying and fussing a few weeks earlier than their baby's colic would naturally reduce itself could mean a world of difference. Fingers crossed as we await more research!