Study: No evidence probiotics help crying babies

Murdoch Children's Research Institute study involved 2,000 infants

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Probiotics are live bacteria in food that may enhance the good bacteria in our bodies and that may help alleviate certain gastrointestinal complaints like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Others think probiotics may help a colicky baby, too.

But a new Australian study finds insufficient evidence to support using probiotics to manage colic or prevent crying in infants.

Tara Harwood did not take part in the study but is a pediatric registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

"The jury really is still out, whether or not this is effective for managing some of your infants GI issues, such as colic, which is the number one complaint that I see," Harwood said.

Researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute looked at 12 studies, involving nearly 2,000 infants, 3 months and younger.  Five of the studies examined how effective probiotics were in treating colic and the other seven studies examined probiotics role in possibly preventing it.

According to the studies, six of them suggested probiotics reduced crying and six did not.  Researchers say larger, more vigorous studies are needed.

Harwood says there are lots of reasons your infant could be fussy, so before starting probiotics, talk to your baby's doctor.     

"Go and talk to your pediatrician, or your pediatric gastroenterologist, or a pediatric dietitian to make sure that this is an appropriate product for your child," advised Harwood.

Now, for those parents who just want to try and see if probiotics help their crying infants,  we asked Harwood if probiotics can make them sick.  She said "no," but before jumping right to them, she says it's still best to talk to your pediatrician first, to rule out other potential issues causing the crying.  Harwood adds, probiotics are not recommended for NICU babies.

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