Infantile colic affects 10 to 20 percent of what appear to be normal infants. It is a persistent, unexplained crying that occurs between two weeks and 5 months of age. According to J. Marc Rhoads, M.D., professor and director of pediatric gastroenterology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and director of the Endoscopy Laboratory at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, colic has a terrible impact on parents and may explain the doubling of infanticides over the past thirty years. “While reflux, which causes irritability, might be helped with a liquid acid blocker, a placebo-controlled study showed that crying time in babies with colic does not improve with acid blocker treatment.”
To address this issue, Rhoads and colleagues are studying whether a probiotic would help reduce gut inflammation and therefore relieve colic. Previous research done by Rhoads and associates found that babies cried for an average of five hours daily and they had intestinal inflammation linked to dysbiosis. Dysbiosis refers to having an abnormal population of bacteria in their stools. The current study is making use of Lactobacillus reuteri, a probiotic (good bacteria), to see what effects it has on gut inflammation.
Rhoades points out, “The gastrointestinal tract of infants, particularly preterm infants, is highly vulnerable because they haven’t completely developed their ability to distinguish beneficial commensal bacteria from harmful ones that cause diarrhea. We theorize that Lactobacillus reuteri can restore a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut and decrease the inflammation and excess hydrogen gas that are causing pain.”
Forty infants will be studied through the UT Physicians Colic Clinic at UTHealth between the ages of three weeks and three months who have been mainly or partially breastfed who are otherwise healthy. Sweden is providing the probiotic free of charge and the researchers will monitor the safety of the health promoting bacterium.
For more information on the colic study, please call 713-500-5669. If you are interested in making an appointment at the Colic Clinic, located in The University of Texas Professional Building, 6410 Fannin, call 832-525-2617.