Our daughter Mira (who is now 1-year-old) had relentless reflux issues the first 10 months of her life. (but she is incredibly sweet and funny – definitely nothing like the illustration to the left). I tried several different strains of probiotic and we really never found one that worked well for her. How ironic given digestive disorders is one of the conditions I so successfully treat.
Last year at this time I wish I had known about a particular strain of Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 made by a Swedish company called BioGaia. I would have given it a go. A double blind, randomized placebo controlled study was just published in JAMA Pediatrics evaluating the efficacy of this particular strain of probiotic. (Of course it was funded by the company making the product, however given the study design and integrity as well as being published in a well-respected journal makes one take notice.)
The study participants were willing newborns less than 1 week old and they were followed until they were 3 months old. It took place in Italian hospitals, but I am not sure if the infants had as much paperwork to sign as studies done here in the States.
There were a total of 589 newborns randomized to either receive the probiotic or a placebo for 3 months. The total length of the study was about 2 years. When all the results were tallied it showed that the mean duration of crying time in the probiotic group was only 38 minutes whereas the placebo group it was 71 minutes (a half hour of less crying is a lot when you are a sleep deprived new parent). The number of spit-ups in the active group was 2.9 vs 4.6 in the placebo group. They stated it also helped constipation as there were 20% more poopy diapers to change but many times w/colic loose stools are an issue. (I typically find that many probiotics work well for baby constipation).
Overall the results sound pretty good to me. And I like the idea of only 1 probiotic strain. Simple is good especially for young immature gastrointestinal tracts. In addition L. reuteri is known to easily populate the GI tract as well as a history of safety. I used other infant probiotics with L. reuteri, but they also had other strains mixed in. More is not always better both in count and the number of strains. People get caught up in the numbers game with probiotics. It may not matter.
So who sells this probiotic? Can we get it here in the USA? I wondered, since this was a European study and a Swedish company. But alas, in this day and age of globalization of course we can here.
For a baby that is under 6 months the best option is probably Gerber drops. You should be able to put this in a bottle or on the breast as directed. I assume you may be able to find these online or even at a CVS.
If you use these drops please report back how they work. Colic is just not fun for anyone, hopefully these can help lessen parental frustration.
Yours In Health,
Licensed Dietitian / Nutritionist