Probiotics for Colic –2018 Update

There is some debate about whether colic is truly a GI disorder.  A recent commentary (V Sung, MD Cabana. J Pediatr 2017; 191: 6-8) provides some insight.

Key points:

  • “‘Colic’ is a term coined by the ancient Greeks…derived from ‘kolikos,’ meaning crampy pain, sharing its root with the the word colon.”
  • “Since 1994, there have been at least a dozen case-control studies that have indicated differences in the gut microbiota between infants with and without colic.”
  • Studies have had conflicting results with whether calprotectin levels are increased in infants with colic compared with controls.
  • Among probiotics, L reuteri DSM17938 “is the best studied strain.” Despite several studies suggesting efficacy, “the largest and only double-blind randomized trial that included both breastfed and formula-fed infants with colic (n=167) in Australia was ineffective.
  • The commentary reviews a recent study (Fatheree NY et al. J Pediatr 2017; 191: 170-8) “although very small in comparison, adds to this literature, being the second double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled trial of L reuteri DSM17938 shown to be ineffective in breastfed infants with colic.” Sample size =20. “It is the first to document increased fecal calprotectin levels that decrease with reduced crying” …though this “may be reflections of normal levels in healthy young infants, which change over time.”  In addition, this study did not find evidence of systemic inflammation.  The authors speculate that the frequent use of antireflux medications could dampen the effects of probiotics.

My take: We still do not know whether efforts at changing an infant’s microbiome improve clinical outcomes in colic.

Related blog posts:

Near Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon