Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Gut Bacteria May Be Colic Treatment

First Study Shows Promise in Study of Colicky Breastfed Babies
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 3, 2007-- A type of gut-friendly bacterium may help treat colic in breastfed babies, Italian researchers report.

Colicky babies cry inconsolably for no apparent reason. About 20% of all infants have colic, which, though distressing, is benign and usually ends by the time the child is 4 months old.

The cause of colic is unknown. Experts attribute the problem to any number of things, including an infant's immature digestive system, allergies, hormones in breast milk, and overfeeding.

The Italian study, conducted by doctors at the University of Turin, included 83 colicky babies who were exclusively breastfed.

Francesco Savino, MD, and colleagues randomly gave daily Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri)supplements to half the babies for 28 days.

The other babies took simethicone, which helps eliminate excess gas, daily for 28 days.

L. reuteri is one of the many probiotic ("good") bacteria found in the human intestines. Savino's team tested the theory that boosting L. reuteri would cut down on colicky crying.

Curbing Colicky Crying

The babies' parents kept diaries of how long their babies cried. At the study's start, the babies cried, on average, three hours and 17 minutes a day.

After a week's treatment, average daily crying dropped to two hours and 39 minutes for babies taking L. reuteri, compared with nearly three hours for those taking simethicone.

At the study's end, average daily crying time was 51 minutes for babies taking L. reuteri vs. two hours and 25 minutes for babies taking simethicone.

Since all the babies in this study were breastfed, it's not clear if the results apply to formula-fed babies, the researchers note.

Also, Savino's team asked the babies' mothers to avoid cow's milk -- including milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter -- during the experiment. However, that dietary change, by itself, didn't seem to curb colic, the study shows.

Since this study was the first to test L. reuteri as a colic treatment, Savino and colleagues call for more research to confirm their results.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration