The administration of probiotics in mothers during pregnancy and after birth has shown several benefits on babies’ health, including the improvement of infant colic. For instance, Limosilactobacillus reuteri (basonym “Lactobacillus reuteri”) LR 92 has demonstrated to positively improve infant colic in the first months of life.
What is infant colic?
Infant colic is a condition affecting about 20% infants younger than 3 months old, and is often described as “excessive crying”. The aetiology is unclear but likely related to psychological and physiological causes.
In children, colic leads to sleeping problems and it can also cause allergies, migraine, attention deficit and hyperactivity as long-term effects.
Moreover, infant colic may also cause sleeping disorders and depression in parents due to the continuous crying and sleepless nights [1-2].
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 145 women (18-49 years old) that consumed capsules of LR 92 (108 CFU/day) or a placebo during the last 4 weeks pregnancy . The babies were then monitored for 4-5 months and:
Babies from mothers who received placebo were 2.36 times more likely to have colic
The frequency and severity of colic were significantly lower in the intervention group
LR 92 intake appeared to be especially beneficial for babies born by C- section
Proposed mechanisms of action
Although a full understanding of how perinatal administration of probiotics improves infant colic is still lacking, several mechanisms have been identified [4-8]:
increase levels of anti-inflammatory mediators such as IL-10 and TGF-β in breast milk, which in turn stimulate the gut development and IgA secretion, control inflammation and improve gastrointestinal function
improve gut barrier function by stabilizing tight junctions and mucin production
promote the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter, and influences behaviour
modulate gut microbiota development
1. Zeevenhooven J et al (2018). Infant colic: mechanisms and management. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 15(8):479-496
3. Pourmirzaiee MA et al. (2020) The efficacy of the prenatal administration of Lactobacillus reuteri LR92 DSM 26866 on the prevention of infantile colic: a randomized control trial. Eur J Pediatr 179, 1619–1626.
4. Sung V et al (2018) Lactobacillus reuteri to Treat Infant Colic: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics 141(1):e20171811
5. Sohn K and Underwood MA (2017) Prenatal and postnatal administration of prebiotics and probiotics. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 22(5): 284–289.
6. Sung V, et al. (2012) Probiotics to improve outcomes of colic in the community: protocol for the Baby Biotics randomised controlled trial. BMC Pediatr. 12:135
7. Baldassarre ME et al (2018) Rationale of Probiotic Supplementation during Pregnancy and Neonatal Period. Nutrients 6;10(11):1693.
8. Grze?kowiak ? et al. (2012) The impact of perinatal probiotic intervention on gut microbiota: double-blind placebo-controlled trials in Finland and Germany. Anaerobe. 2012;18(1):7?13.