A baby cries–that’s normal.
But when a baby cannot be consoled—by a hug, milk or a diaper change—parents worry. Colic is that ceaseless run of crying in the first few months of life that deprives everyone of sleep but then often stops just as mysteriously as it began.
Parents do know that gastrointestinal distress often accompanies colic. As evidence shows, dysbiosis or altered gut microbes could be one cause. And treatment with probiotics has shown success.
Scientists in Italy looked at 600 babies at 9 hospitals in Italy who received either a strain of Lactobacillus reuteri or a placebo for the first three months of life. Duration of crying, changes in feeding and urgent visits to health care visits were observed.
The results were promising. Infants getting the probiotic L. reuteri cried for much less time—38 minutes as opposed to 71 minutes—than those who did not.
Researchers in Turku, Finland took it a step farther. Anna Partty and colleagues wondered if infants with colic also have low-grade inflammation. Their reasoning was that dysbiosis induces lasting shifts in immune and metabolic phenotypes (traits influenced by both genes and environments) if derailed by inflammation.
- Immune biomarkers were checked at one month in 28 infants with colic
- 12 healthy controls underwent the same tests
- Colicky infants showed elevated concentrations of 3 immune biomarkers compared to the healthy controls. Several others were comparable.
- Fecal microbes showed both negative and positive changes
The scientists concluded: In addition to gut microbiota alterations, colic in infants is associated with low-grade systemic inflammation. Specific bacterial species beyond conventional probiotics may have anti-inflammatory properties that may help to modulate microbiota and alleviate colic-related inflammation.
The study Infantile Colic is Associated with Low-grade Systemic Inflammation appears in Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition in July of 2016.