Probiotics and Infant Colic Interview with:
Dr Valerie Sung MBBS(Hons) FRACP MPH
NHMRC PhD Candidate

Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, and
Community Health Services Research, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrician, Centre for Community Child Health
The Royal Children’s Hospital
Parkville | 3052 | Victoria
 Australia What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Sung: The systematic review identified 12 studies (1825 infants)  that investigated the use of probiotics to treat or prevent infant colic (excessive crying of unknown cause in babies less than 3 months old). Three of the 5 treatment trials concluded probiotics effectively treat colic in breastfed babies; one suggested possible effectiveness in formula-fed babies with colic, and one suggested ineffectiveness in breastfed babies with colic. The three effective trials used the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri in breastfed babies only; in two of these trials, the mothers were on a dairy-free diet. Five of the 7 prevention trials suggested probiotics to be ineffective in preventing colic. 
Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Sung: 

Recent studies have shown differences in gut flora between babies with colic and those without. Probiotics are known to alter gut flora and their effects are strain-specific. The mixed findings from this review are not surprising, as studies used a wide variety of probiotic strains, and the gut flora of breastfed babies are likely different from those who are formula-fed. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Sung: There is still insufficient evidence to support the routine use of probiotics for infants with colic, especially in formula-fed babies. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Sung: Larger and more rigorously designed randomized clinical trials are needed to examine the efficacy of the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri in the management of breastfed and particularly formula-fed infants with colic and in the prevention of colic in healthy term infants.


Probiotics to Prevent or Treat Excessive Infant Crying Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Sung V, Collett S, de Gooyer T, Hiscock H, Tang M, Wake M. Probiotics to Prevent or Treat Excessive Infant Crying: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;():-. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.2572.

Last Updated on October 10, 2013 by Marie Benz MD FAAD