MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr Valerie Sung MBBS (Hons) FRACP MPH PhD
Department of Paediatrics
The University of Melbourne
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Infant colic is excessive crying in babies less than 3 months old with no underlying medical cause. It affects 1 in 5 newborns, is very distressing, and is associated with maternal depression, Shaken Baby Syndrome, and early cessation of breastfeeding. Up to now, there has been no single effective treatment for colic. The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 has recently shown promise but results from trials have been conflicting. In particular, a previous trial from Australia, the largest in the world so far, did not find the probiotic to be effective in both breastfed and formula-fed infants with colic.
This international collaborative study, which collected raw data from 345 infants from existing trials from Italy, Poland, Canada and Australia, confirms Lactobacillus reuteri to be effective in breastfed infants with colic. However, it cannot be recommended for formula-fed infants with colic.
Compared to a placebo, the probiotic group was two times more likely to reduce crying by 50 per cent, by the 21st day of treatment, for the babies who were exclusively breastfed. The number needed to treat for day 21 success in breastfed infants was 2.6.
In contrast, the formula fed infants in the probiotic group seemed to do worse than the placebo group, but the numbers for this group were limited.