If you talk to a soon-to-be-parent, they probably imagine the first few weeks with their child involving a lot of cooing and cuddling. They would never imagine that those first few weeks of joy can easily morph into weeks of stress if your new baby is part of the twenty-eight percent of babies born with colic. The feeling of pure elation that you were expecting is soon replaced with hair-pulling and sleepless nights, making parenting seem like a thing that nightmares are made of.
Doctors are not really sure exactly what causes colic, but there are a lot of theories floating out there. Some like to lay the blame on an immature nervous system, while others blame it on their nerves being oversensitive to stimulation from lights and noises. The rest of the theories have less to do with the nervous system and everything to do with the digestive system. There are many doctors who argue that colic stems directly from digestive issues such as lactose intolerance or reflux.
With so many doctors blame colic on problems within the digestive tract, it makes sense that scientists decided to do a study on the correlation between gut health and colic. They discovered that most colicky babies had major bacterial imbalances within their gastrointestinal tract, as well as extremely high levels of E. Coli. Since probiotics are well known for their ability to balance bacteria in the gut, researchers in Italy decided to experiment with its effects on colicky babies. What they found out will change parenting for years to come.
In their study, researchers found a group of 46 healthy babies that had been diagnosed with colic. Twentyfive of those babies received probiotic drops every morning before their first feeding and the rest were given a placebo. All of the babies were breast fed, and the mothers were instructed to avoid cow’s milk.
The researchers kept a log of how many minutes the babies spent crying each day. After three weeks, the crying had dropped drastically for both groups, but the biggest change was seen in the babies who took a daily probiotic before their first feeding. At the start of the study, the babies who took probiotics were crying approximately 370 minutes every day. After just three weeks, that number dropped to just 35 minutes. Since non-colicky babies will cry for up to two hours every day, this number is absolutely astounding.
The study is still very fresh and needs to be verified by other researchers, so you shouldn’t rush right out and buy the first baby-friendly probiotic you find. But if you are dealing with a colicky baby and are at your wits end, talk to your pediatrician. They should be able to walk you through the process and find a probiotic that is safe for your baby. If everything works out, in three weeks the crying should be done and you can get back to the cooing and cuddling you’ve been needing.