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Cry baby blues: L reuteri probiotic not backed for Colic

By Shane Starling+

Last updated on 05-Sep-2014 at 14:48 GMT2014-09-05T14:48:44Z

L. reuteri,

L. reuteri, "did not reduce crying or fussing in infants with colic...". IPA says the study is strain-specific and flawed.

A study involving 167 breastfed and probiotic formula fed ‘excessive crying’ infants has found no benefits for the formula-fed ones, even though other studies showed probiotics could reduce the malady.


Responding the International Probiotics Association (IPA) said the strain-specific research could not be generalised to all probiotics.

The study, published this month in the British Medical Journal,  involved 167 babies split into two groups, with 85 receiving the Lactobacillus reuteri-fortified probiotic formula for one month.

L. reuteri treatment did not lead to changes in infant faecal microbial diversity, E coli colonisation, or calprotectin levels.

The researchers, led by Valerie Sung, a paediatrician at the Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Parkville, Victoria, said the probiotic formula, "did not reduce crying or fussing in infants with colic, nor was it effective in improving infant sleep, maternal mental health, family or infant functioning, or quality of life."

They added, "probiotics therefore cannot be routinely recommended for all infants with colic."

The IPA’s Nevena Krstić commented that due to the result for L. reuteri in the study, “it shouldn`t be interpreted that all probiotics would yield the same null effect.”

She added: “It is worthy to note that this same probiotic was shown to be efficacious in previous studies under different clinical settings.”

Krstić said the study had limitations including whether the infants had other health issues and potential blinding and dosage issues.

Colic affects about 20% of babies.

Professor Sung and others recently published a systematic review  that collated data from more than 1,800 infants who took part in 12 randomised clinical trials.

They found data to be insufficient to support using L.reuteri to manage colic - especially in formula-fed babies. However they noted that there is some evidence to suggest the strain may an effective treatment for crying infants who are breastfed exclusively and have colic.


British Medical Journal

April 2014 (BMJ 2014;348:g2107)

‘Treating infant colic with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri: double blind, placebo controlled randomised trial’

Authors: Valerie Sung et al…

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