Colic is quite common among babies, affecting approximately 3-28% of newborns. Colic is defined by excessive crying for no apparent reason, for at least three hours a day, on a minimum of three days per week, over a period of three or more weeks.
Recent studies show that certain bad bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E. Coli), are more abundant in the intestinal tract of infants with colic, suggesting that these bacteria may be causing intestinal discomfort. This excess of bad bacteria led researchers to believe that supplementing beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri), would balance the gut flora in these infants, reducing pain, and therefore crying, in babies with colic.
In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, the parents of 50 babies with colic gave their child either L. reuteri or a placebo, once a day prior to feeding. Before the study began, the children were crying an average of 5-6 hours daily. After 21 days, the infants from the placebo group were crying for an average of 90 minutes per day, whereas the infants in the group receiving the probiotic were crying an average of 35 minutes per day. Researchers also found higher levels of L. reuteri and reduced levels of E. coli in the stool of the infants who received probiotic supplementation.
BioGaia®, a Swedish biotechnology company, develops and sells products containing the probiotic bacteria L. reuteri. Ferring Pharmaceuticals currently distributes two of their products in Canada, BioGaia® Probiotic Drops and BioGaia® Probiotic Chewable Tablets.
For younger children and infants, the probiotic drops are easy to administer by adding them to any food or drink or by giving them on a spoon. The drops do not affect breast-feeding or the taste of food and have been clinically proven to reduce colic in infants, improve digestive health and function, and boost immunity. The chewable tablets are safe for children over two years of age (adults can also take them) to help restore and maintain a healthy microbial balance in the digestive tract.
Both products are available behind the counter (because they require refrigeration) at most Canadian pharmacies. If it is not in their regular product supply, ask your pharmacist to order it in for you. For more information on BioGaia®, visit their website at www.biogaia.com.