In a study recently published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers from Aldo Moro University of Baro in Italy revealed how infants taking probiotics within their first few months may have less crying fits associated with colic later on in life. They noted that other common gastrointestinal conditions in infants, including constipation and acid reflux, may also be prevented with the use of probiotics.
The study, which was published in the January 13 issue of the journal, included 554 newborn babies in nine different pediatric units. Each infant was given either the probiotic lactobacillus or a placebo. In their final analysis, the research team found that of those infants who received the probiotic, the number of infants who suffered from crying outbursts and spitting up was cut nearly in half when compared with the other test group. Bowel movements were also slightly higher in number among those babies who were given probiotics.
Since the early 1900s, probiotics have been supposed by various scientists to have some positive effect on gastrointestinal functions. Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that probiotics have been seen as possibly having some sort of benefit for infants who are given them at an early age. A study published earlier this year in the journal Pediatrics showed that probiotics might help with atopic sensitivities, including a slight benefit for babies suffering with asthma conditions. Another study in 2010 found that probiotics could be useful in preventing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), one of the most widely occurring gastrointestinal disease among the same age group. Now, this newest study shows that infants taking probiotics might have less crying fits later on because of the good bacteria’s ability to tackle similar gastrointestinal conditions.
The latest study also suggests an economic benefit for those parents who might choose to rely on probiotics for infant health. The study estimates an average savings of $119 per year for each child of families using probiotics for infants. This is largely because of an expected decrease in the need for pediatrician visits.
Researchers, however, are careful to emphasize that more study will have to be carried out in order to confirm and bolster the findings. Although none of the infants tested in the study were harmed by probiotic usage, it has been suggested that caution ought to be exercised by parents until further research is conducted. Commenting on the study, Dr. William Muinos of Miami Children’s Hospital noted that because the digestive system of a newborn is not as developed as older children, the components that probiotics are made up of could potentially introduce bacteria into the child’s blood stream. Such risks, he remarks, ought to certainly be assessed in studies to come.
While many popular foods like yogurts and cheeses contain probiotics naturally already, probiotics can also be taken by way of a supplement. For the infants in the study, probiotics were administered with a mixture of Lactobacillus reuteri and oil. Those who received the micro-organisms on a daily basis were given five drops at a time. The fact that such favorable results were consistent in all the subjects treated with probiotics is certainly a positive development in our understanding of infant health. Hopefully, more research will continue to confirm what this latest study says, that infants taking probiotics might have less crying fits later on because of the micro-organisms’ incredible benefits in fighting gastrointestinal conditions.
Written by Chris Bacavis