“Right now, pediatric gastroenterologists can treat just about anything that comes through the door,” said J. Marc Rhoads, M.D., professor of pediatrics at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, which is part of the UT Health Science Center at Houston. “With colic, there is no evidence-based treatment we can offer. Colic can be a dangerous situation for a baby. The parent’s frustration over the crying can lead to maternal frustration, post-partum depression and even thoughts of harming the baby.”
Published in the July 23 online edition of the Journal of Pediatrics, the study pointed to an organism called Klebsiella, a normally occurring bacterium that can be found in the mouth, skin and intestines. In the study of 36 babies, half of which had colic, researchers found the bacterium and gut inflammation in the intestines of the babies with colic.
“We believe that the bacterium may be sparking an inflammatory reaction, causing the gut inflammation,” said Rhoads, the lead investigator for the study. “Inflammation in the gut of colicky infants closely compared to levels in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Colic could prove to be a precursor to other gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and allergic gastroenteropathies.”
Babies in the study were fed breast milk and/or formula. Previous research articles have not shown significant data supporting the theory that breastfeeding protects infants against colic. The babies in the study were recruited from UT Physicians’ pediatric clinics and Kelsey-Seybold clinics.
Right now, pediatricians prescribe special hypoallergenic infant formula to try and treat colic, but none of it has been proven in studies to be effective in treating the condition.
“During our study, we also found that the babies that didn’t have colic had more types of bacteria in their intestines. The presence of more bacteria may indicate that specific bacterial species (phylotypes) are beneficial to humans,” Rhoads said.
A larger study is needed to examine Klebsiella and the use of a probiotic, which is a dietary supplement made up of good bacteria, to control the gut inflammation.
Bonnie - treating babies with probiotics for colic? What a novel idea (I say with tongue in cheek).