colic

Breastfed Babies With Colic Need Probiotics Too

There’s little doubt, colic is one of the most frustrating and upsetting problems Moms face with their newborns.

Although colic is a short-term problem that typically goes away by month 4 of an infant’s life, this knowledge provides little comfort to new Moms trying and failing to calm down their tearful babies after hours of non-stop crying.

Several health factors – food allergies, acid reflux, milk intolerance and gas – may contribute to colic, but no one really knows what triggers this alarming condition.

Over the years, probiotics have slowly emerged as a safe, cost-effective way to treat colic in previous reports we’ve cited here.

There’s even more evidence of such benefits for breastfed babies in a recent international study featured in Pediatrics that has attracted lots of attention.

A study of data collected from four double-blind trials conducted on three continents and 345 babies concluded that a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus reuteri reduced colic-induced crying after three weeks for children who are exclusively breastfed.

Breastfed babies treated with a probiotic were twice as likely to experience a 50 percent reduction in colic symptoms by day 21, says Dr. Valerie Sung, lead author of the study and Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

That’s a great step toward treating colic, but only for breastfed babies. Unfortunately, formula-fed infants weren’t included in this study, and there’s plenty of health-related reasons why some new Moms should breastfeed their babies.

Medical resources like the Cleveland Clinic and WebMD offer a variety of methods for treating colic ranging from the sensible (calming your baby) to the unproven and possibly unsafe (using herbal remedies).

Here are some safe, simple steps you can take to relieve your baby’s colic:

  • Cutting back on certain foods if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Introducing a pacifier.
  • Diverting your baby’s attention by playing soft music or rocking him/her.
  • Decreasing your baby’s exposure to outside stimulation.

Giving your baby a probiotic with four strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the good guys in his/her gut like EndoMune Junior could make a difference in your infant’s colicky symptoms and help you get a good night’s sleep too.

If you’re a new Mom and your baby’s colicky crying persists even after these simple and safe treatments, we urge you to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician for guidance.

Why Do I Need to Take a Probiotic?

For people who are reading our blog for the very first time or those needing a refresher course in good gut health habits, you may be wondering why we devote so much space to explaining why you need to take a probiotic.

There are A LOT of reasons for taking probiotics, in addition to promoting good gut health! Fortunately, you don’t have to do the research.

What follows are 10 important reasons why you should be taking probiotics for your good health, based on the latest research.

  1. Many cheap brands of probiotics contain a single strain of beneficial bacteria, which may be good for a specific problem. However, a multi-strain probiotic protects the diversity of your gut and treats common gut health problems like constipation too.
  1. Do you use an over-the-counter medication like loperamide (Imodium) to treat a case of diarrhea? Taking a probiotic is one of the most effective ways, not only to get rid of diarrhea, but to prevent it altogether.
  1. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can do great harm to your gut and your emotions, disrupting your body’s gut-brain axis. Taking a probiotic and a prebiotic (EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and Endomune Jr. Probiotics for Kids contains both) may be a good way to treat IBS and depression without a drug.
  1. Are you taking antibiotics more than once a year to treat persistent infections? Antibiotics rapidly deplete the beneficial bacteria and make you more vulnerable to serious diseases such as colon cancer and more serious antibiotic-resistant infections. Taking a daily probiotic gives your body extra protection by replenishing the beneficial bacteria your body needs.

(You’ll also do your health a great deal of good by avoiding contact with antibacterial soaps that contain broad spectrum and synthetic antimicrobial compounds like triclosan too.)

  1. For patients who suffer from migraines, scientists have recently discovered a link between those painful headaches and nitrates, a common food additive. Some gut health experts believe taking a probiotic may become a safer, non-drug answer to treat migraines.
  1. Have problems with your teeth? Taking a probiotic is good treatment, as it may be a one more way to heal chronic periodontitis and reduce inflammation and levels of gingivitis and plaque, in addition to regular dental care.
  1. Hypertension can be a warning sign of serious health problems behind the scenes and even death. Taking a daily probiotic can improve your overall health, lower your blood pressure safely and lessen your dependence on prescription medications.
  1. Do you fly for your job or pleasure on a frequent basis or work a swing shift? The balance of bacteria in your gut is affected your body’s circadian rhythms as you cross time zones — often due to jet lag — but taking a probiotic prevents that yo-yo effect from harming your health.
  1. Protecting your sleep is an important part of restoring your body night after night. Be sure that any probiotic you consider taking also contains a prebiotic that can help you improve your sleep.
  1. Are you a new parent losing sleep over your baby’s prolonged crying due to colic? A number of studies point to probiotics as a safe, healthy way to lessen colic and prevent other common problems for babies like acid reflux and constipation.

Treat colic safely, inexpensively with probiotics

Watching your young infant struggle with colic after feeding is among the most upsetting experiences you’ll face during the early months of his or her life. Fortunately, the prolonged crying and discomfort your baby experiences due to colic or other digestive ailments will be brief, particularly if you follow our recent list of 10 ways to calm your baby naturally and safely.

One of the easiest and safest ways to treat colic, and help your baby develop good gut health that boosts immunity, is taking a multi-species probiotic containing 5 to 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) per day.

A recent Italian study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, concluded giving healthy babies a daily dose of probiotics shortly after they’re born may lessen episodes of prolonged crying as well as the development of common gastrointestinal problems, including acid reflux and constipation.

Italian researchers assigned some 550 infants born at full term to receive either daily drops of a probiotic mixed with oil or a placebo (an oil mixture) for three months. Parents of those infants also kept diaries detailing any problems (inconsolable crying, bowel movements and vomiting) along with the number of visits made to their pediatrician.

The babies who received probiotics were obvious to spot by the end of the 90-day study.

  • The time babies treated with probiotics experienced prolonged crying was 38 minutes, or almost half the time (71 minutes) of the placebo group.
  • The probiotic group had more bowel movements (4.2) compared to those receiving a placebo (3.6).
  • The placebo group experienced more daily problems with regurgitations (4.6) than the probiotic group (2.9).

Interestingly, Italian scientists were also able to quantify the monetary benefits of giving babies a probiotic. Families saved $119 for each child given a probiotic.

“Driving a change of colonization during the first weeks of life through giving lactobacilli may promote an improvement in intestinal permeability,” according to the Italian researchers. “Visceral sensitivity and mast cell density and probiotic administration may represent a new strategy for preventing these conditions, at least in predisposed children.”

These results mirror similar findings in a 2007 study that concluded babies treated with a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Junior cried about two-thirds less than those given the gas-reducing drug simethicone.

How to treat colic: 10 ways to calm your baby naturally and safely

endomune-baby colic copyOne of the most helpless feelings a new mom experiences is watching her newborn baby screaming at the top of his or her lungs inconsolably for hours that feel like an eternity, usually after feeding.

You read all the books and watched all the videos you could…but nothing really prepared you for how to treat colic in your otherwise healthy and happy baby.

All babies cry a great deal during the first few months, but how do you know when it’s time to worry? A rule of thumb for determining the difference between emotional crying and unexplainable outbursts of crying connected to colic, health experts say, is all about the “rule of threes.” For a baby to be diagnosed as colicky, he or she must cry for a minimum of three hours, at least three days a week, starting in the first three weeks of life.

Unfortunately, that’s not all. Some pediatric experts are concerned prolonged bouts of crying may affect a baby’s development, too.

Other concerns: Moms may be worsening the problem by overfeeding their babies or exposing them to the flood of emotions they’re feeling, but not doing a good job of shielding, from their newborn.

The good news for moms is that most babies grow out of their colicky ways by the time they’re 6 months old. But, how to treat colic shouldn’t be a waiting game, as there are plenty of ways to end it, safely and effectively.

Here are 10 ways to treat colic and help you and your baby get the rest and relaxation both of you need.

1. Modify your baby’s diet by eliminating irritating foods from your own diet — caffeine, dairy products and spicy cuisine — if you’re breastfeeding.

2. When you feed your colicky baby, make sure to hold that noisy bundle of joy as upright as possible. (This tip can reduce your baby’s risks of heartburn, too.)

3. Introduce soothing sounds like a fan, white-noise machine or a dryer to your baby’s environment.

4. Singing quietly to your baby not only soothes your baby but also lightens your mood.

5. Has your baby used a pacifier? Even breastfed babies can benefit from sucking on a pacifier to calm down.

6. The gentle motion your crying baby feels when taking a drive in a moving car can soothe his or her bad mood.

7. Walk away from your crying, colicky baby for a few minutes. You’ll be a better parent and able to handle those loud emotional cries from your stressed baby if you can take a short break.

8. Schedule break time from a trusted friend or family to give you a brief, calming respite.

9. Swaddling your baby (wrapping your infant snugly in a blanket to mimic the warmth of the womb) before putting him or her to bed may help them stay asleep.

10. Studies have shown treating your colicky baby with a multi-species probiotic containing 5-10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) per day may be beneficial. A 2007 study concluded babies treated with a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Junior cried about 66 percent less than those given simethicone, a drug that reduces gas.

How to treat colic isn’t a mystery, and these 10 tips should help provide you and your baby some much-needed relief.

10 Reasons Everyone Should Take a Probiotic

With 100 trillion bacteria and many different species of microflora floating around in our intestinal tract, a balance of good and bad bacteria is necessary to maintain the normal functioning of our immune system and intestines, as well as to promote optimal health.

Considering the recent attention being paid to probiotics—many positive medical studies have been reported in the mainstream media—more people are asking why they need to take a probiotic to protect and improve their overall health.

Here are 10 reasons to take a probiotic for your good health:

1. Your body is under constant attack externally (from exposure to bad bacteria) and internally (our go-go lifestyles hinder our eating habits). Taking a good probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of good bacteria, is the safest, easiest and most effective way to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in your body.

2. The human body cannot replenish the various strains of live and beneficial bacteria your body needs every day to stay healthy just by eating foods like yogurt, miso soup, pickles and sauerkraut that usually contain limited amounts of a single strain of bacteria. This is especially true if you’re using probiotics to treat a specific health problem.

3. Probiotics containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria are more effective in treating a range of health-based problems, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, immune function and respiratory tract infections, according to a 2011 analysis of studies.

4. A growing number of studies are showing how taking a probiotic can be beneficial for patients when they are prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic. Antibiotics can often disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in patients’ bodies, causing unwelcome side effects like diarrhea.

5. Taking a good probiotic boosts patients’ natural defenses, protecting them from traveler’s diarrhea, too.

6. New moms can sidestep the prolonged crying and discomfort from their babies suffering infantile colic by giving them a high-quality probiotic.

7. Recent studies have been linked with taking a high-quality probiotic to beneficial effects on the gut-brain axis that may positively affect your emotions and help you beat depression.

8. The healthy bacteria contained in a good probiotic help maintain normal intestinal motility and lessen the problems of constipation.

9. Reducing your risks of colon cancer is as simple as taking a good probiotic.

10. Probiotics are a newfound weapon that may assist in lowering elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels that contribute to cardiovascular disease.

Soothe Your Baby’s Colic with Probiotics

Babies cry for a variety of reasons: they’re hungry, they’re thirsty, they need changing or they’re sick.  Sometimes they cry for no apparent reason at all.  This is called infantile colic.  A colicky baby cries or shows symptoms of discomfort, such as moaning or fussing, for up to several hours.

Three recent studies published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that many babies with infantile colic had an inflamed intestine caused by certain bacteria.  Based on the results, scientists concluded that higher levels of beneficial bacteria, like those found in probiotics, lessened intestinal inflammation in babies.

Like adults, babies benefit from a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria that are found in probiotics.  EndoMune Junior contains billions of bacteria that improves intestinal digestion, helping relieve colic and ease babies’ distress.

Probiotics in the News

I receive daily emails from a number of sources about new developments in medicine, particularly in the areas of gastroenterology and probiotics.

There are two interesting articles I would like to briefly discuss this month:

  • Benefits of Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria against gas-producing E. Coli found in colicky infants(1)
  • Probiotics for prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile-associated disease in hospitalized adults(3)


Benefits of Probiotic Bacteria for Colicky Infants

The first report details the research that has been underway to determine how probiotics can lessen the problem of “Infantile Colic.” This is a condition in which a healthy baby shows periods of intense, unexplained fussing/crying lasting more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week over a duration of three or more continuous weeks. Parents have sleepless nights and stressful days trying to calm their baby. The pediatricians used to recommend trying simethicone drops, which works no better than tap water.

The exact cause of infantile colic is unknown, but a number of reports have associated colic to changes in the bacterial balance in a baby’s intestine.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2007(2) reported on the benefits of taking a probiotic. In the study, 83 colicky babies were divided into two groups: 41 were given a Lactobacillus probiotic and 42 babies received simethicone. The results were astounding:

After one week, babies treated with the probiotic had close to 20% less crying time

  • By 4 weeks, probiotic treated babies had 74% less crying
  • Overall, there was a 95% positive response to the Lactobacillus probiotic drops in colicky infants.

To better understand how probiotics lessen infantile colic, this study was performed to evaluated the interaction between Lactobacillus probiotics and gas-forming coliforms that were isolated from stools of colicky infants. The results showed that several strains of Lactobacillus produced antibiotics against six different species of gas-forming coliforms.

The authors concluded:

  1. There was a greater presence of of coliform bacteria in colicky infants, and
  2. Certain Lactobacillus probiotic bacteria can improve colicky symptoms by reducing the ability of coliform bacteria to colonize the gut.


Probiotics for Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea, C. Difficile

This report published in the American Academy of Nurse Practioners reviewed all the relevant studies on probiotic efficacy for preventing diarrhea and colitis due to taking antibiotics.

I have written several newsletters on how antibiotics can upset the healthy balance of the intestinal bacteria, resulting in mild diarrhea or life-threatening clostridia difficile colitis. There are a 100 trillion bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Generally, 85% or more are healthy beneficial bacteria that help in digestion and immunity.

Antibiotics prescribed for an infection like sinusitis or bronchitis can destroy the healthy intestinal bacteria and result in problems with diarrhea. A particular bacteria called Clostridia difficile can multiply when the healthy bacteria are destroyed.

C difficile produces toxins that cause a severe colitis. Unfortunately, this bacteria is becoming more common in hospitals and other health care facilities. As a result, the risk of developing colitis and diarrhea has increased. In 2006, it was reported that patients with C difficile colitis stayed in the hospital 3.6 days longer and the additional hospital costs averaged $3,669 per patient day.(4) A conservative estimate of the cost of this disease in the United States was $3.2 billion annually.(5)

This report was to determine if giving probiotics to patients receiving antibiotics would lessen the risk of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea and C difficile-associated disease.

The meta-analysis found that the administration of probiotics led to a statistically significant relative risk reduction. Compared to patients given a placebo, the patients receiving probiotics had a:

  • 44% reduction for antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • 71% reduction for C difficile-associated disease

The authors concluded that administering probiotics concurrently with antibiotics in hospitalized patients could potentially lessen the healthcare spending, morbidity and mortality due to the gastrointestinal complications related to the use of antibiotics.

Articles like these two indicate the amount of research that is going on to determine the health benefits of probiotics. Since I started researching the importance of the healthy intestinal bacteria and probiotics in 2005, the amount of new scientific information published annually is amazing.

(1) Antagonistic effect of Lactobacillus strains against gas-producing coliforms isolated from colicky infants.Savino F, Cordisco L, Tarasco V, Locatelli E, Di Gioia D, Oggero R, Matteuzzi D. BMC Microbiol. 2011 Jun 30;11(1):157.

(2)Lactobacillus reuteri (American Type Culture Collection Strain 55730) versus simethicone in the treatment of infantile colic: a prospective randomized study. Savino F, Pelle E, Palumeri E, Oggero R, Miniero R. Pediatrics. 2007 Jan;119(1):e124-30.

(3) Probiotics for prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile-associated disease in hospitalized adults-A meta-analysis.Avadhani A, Miley H.J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2011 Jun;23(6):269-74

(4) Health care costs and mortality associated with nosocomial diarrhea due to Clostridium difficile.Kyne L, Hamel MB, Polavaram R, Kelly CP. Clin Infect Dis. 2002 Feb 1;34(3):346-53. Epub 2001 Dec 17.

(5) Strategies to prevent clostridium difficile infections in acute care hospitals. Dubberke ER, Gerding DN, Classen D, Arias KM, Podgorny K, Anderson DJ, Burstin H, Calfee DP, Coffin SE, Fraser V, Griffin FA, Gross P, Kaye KS, Klompas M, Lo E, Marschall J, Mermel LA, Nicolle L, Pegues DA, Perl TM, Saint S, Salgado CD, Weinstein RA, Wise R, Yokoe DS. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2008 Oct;29 Suppl 1:S81-92

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