Randomized clinical trial shows probiotic may not be an effective treatment for colic

Many families have experienced colicky infants who have excessive and inconsolable crying.  The cause of this behavior is largely unknown, however it is beginning to be linked to a variety of diseases, including allergies and gastrointestinal disorders.  Many remedies have been suggested to help assuage these infants, including probiotic therapies, but thus far the evidence of their efficacy is unknown.  Researchers in Finland put one of the probiotic therapies, using Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), to the test and conducted a double blind randomized clinical trial to discover whether it decreased colic.  They published their results last week in Nature Pediatric Research

The scientists studied 30 colicky infants in the study, who were split evenly into a probiotic group and a control group.  The mothers of the probiotic group orally administered LGG to their children once a day for 28 days, while the mothers of the control group orally administered a placebo.  During this time the mothers kept diaries of how long the child cried, as well as collected stool samples for microbiome testing.  The results showed that the probiotics did not alter the amount of crying for each infant when compared to the placebo group.  In addition there was no statistical difference in the microbiome’s of both groups.

Unfortunately for the families of colicky infants, this study did not show that LGG was an effective colic therapy.  There are other studies that conflict with this one though, so perhaps different types of bacteria, or larger doses could improve efficacy.  The relationship between the microbiome and colic is unclear, however, given the recent advances in gut-brain axis research, we would not be surprised if the two are connected.


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