Probiotics May Help Fussy Babies


Few things are more concerning to a new parent than a baby that cries and fusses with no known cause. Emerging research suggest it may be connected with the human gut microbiome.

The role of gut bacteria is now known to be much more important than previously understood. It is now known that colonization of the infant gut with symbiotic bacteria is essential for the regulation of gut function, and for proper maturation of the immune system. Interference with this process, such as can occur in preterm infants, delivery by C-section, and formula feeding, can have a negative impact on the development of the infant gut microbiome. This has been shown to increase the risk of disease, not only as an infant, but also later in life. Infant behavior that has previously been written off as simply having a "fussy baby" could be an indicator of problems with gut development and digestive health.

A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigated the impact of a mixed prebiotic and probiotic (or synbiotic) formula on multiple health parameters of preterm infants. The first of its kind study found that supplementation with a probiotic baceria, called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, resulted in an alleviation of excessive crying and fussing as compared to placebo. The researchers also determined that the group receiving the placebo had a higher number of a pathogenic microbe, known as Clostridium histolyticum, in their gut microbiota.

Although the findings also continue to support the notion that probiotics are safe to use in infants, it is recommended that they be used under the guidance of a trained professional. Excessive crying and fussing may be a sign of more serious problems in an infant. However, this research suggests that probiotic supplementation can be a preventive and therapeutic intervention that, not only improves a baby's health, but can help parents sleep better at night as well.

Journal References

Collado MC, Cernada M, Bauerl C, Vento M, Perez-Martinez G. Microbial ecology and host-microbiota interactions during early life stages. Gut Microbes. 2012 Jul-Aug;3(4):352-65. doi: 10.4161/gmic.21215

Melville JM, Moss TJ. The immune consequences of preterm birth. Front Neurosci. 2013 May 21;7:79. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00079

Partty A, Luoto R, Kalliomaki M, Salminen S, Isolauri E. Effects of Early Prebiotic and Probiotic Supplementation on Development of Gut Microbiota and Fussing and Crying in Preterm Infants: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Pediatr. 2013 Jul 31. pii: S0022-3476(13)00584-2. doi: 0.1016/j.jpeds.2013.05.035

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