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Study: Probiotics Soothe Colicky Babies

Probiotics may treat colic, study says
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

For any parent who's been there, colic is the pits. And while researchers haven't yet found a cure for the upsetting ailment—which sends babies into fits of crying, uncomfortableness and general awfulness—a new study has at least discovered something to soothe it: probiotic drops.

In fact, six out of 12 trials involving 2,000 colicky babies found that probiotic drops significantly reduced their crying (which was no doubt music to their parents' ears). While researchers still need to conduct more studies to make this one official, all evidence so far seems to suggest the drops really do work. Considering 1 in 5 babies are afflicted with colic, the over-the-counter commercialization of the drops treatment could be huge. (Not to mention a massive lifesaver for parents everywhere.)

The findings of the Austalian study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, also found that breast-fed babies had even better responses to probiotic drops.

So what's behind its powers? Scientists aren't really sure. Probiotics, which are essentially cocktails of live micro-organisms, have been known for some time to rectify a whole host of ailments and have overall positive health benefits. But even the cause of colic itself isn't really known; so the soothing powers of the treatment can't be linked directly as yet. The biggest hunch doctors have? Colic may be caused by babies taking in too much air during feedings, which can lead to some pretty painful stomach gas.

But the jury's still out on even that one.

"We do not know what causes colic and not all crying is down to colic," said Dr. Valerie Sung, a lead researcher in the study. "The baby may be crying because they are cold or have a dirty nappy. All babies are different."

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