Prophylactically using probiotics in infants may reduce the development of gastrointestinal conditions, according to a recent study.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria (sometimes referred to as "friendly germs") that help to maintain the health of the intestinal tract and aid in digestion. They also help keep potentially harmful organisms in the gut (harmful bacteria and yeasts) under control. Most probiotics come from food sources, especially cultured milk products. Probiotics can be consumed as capsules, tablets, beverages, powders, yogurts, and other foods.
In a recent study, researchers conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the effects of Lactobacillus reuteri supplementation during the first 3 months of infant life on the onset of colic, acid reflux and constipation. A total of 589 infants less than one week old were randomly assigned to receive L reuteri or placebo for 90 days. Data on the development of gastrointestinal problems was recorded by the parents. The main outcome measures evaluated included constipation, reduction in crying time and regurgitation.
The researchers found that by the age of 3 months-old, the infants receiving Lactobacillus reuteri vomited and cried significantly less and had significantly fewer bowel movements daily. The authors also noted that probiotic supplementation resulted in both the parents and community spending less money on the infant.
The authors concluded that prophylactic use of probiotics during the first 3 months of life may reduce the development of gastrointestinal problems and reduce costs associated with these conditions. Additional well-designed clinical trials are needed.
Indrio F, Di Mauro A, Riezzo G, Civardi E, Intini C, Corvaglia L, Ballardini E, Bisceglia M, Cinquetti M, Brazzoduro E, Del Vecchio A, Tafuri S, Francavilla R. "Prophylactic Use of a Probiotic in the Prevention of Colic, Regurgitation, and Functional Constipation: A Randomized Clinical Trial." JAMA Pediatrics. 2014 Jan 13. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4367