Newborns and very young infants are often troubled by painful gas. If the baby is distressed, you can bet that the parents are stressed and looking for the perfect remedy.
The truth is that almost all babies under 12 weeks of age will experience some level of gastric upset on a daily basis. The majority of babies will magically recover with time as the leading cause of gas is an immature gut. Babies are also anatomically challenged due to their lack of abdominal muscle tone making it difficult to push out the gas. In addition, infants tend to clinch their anal sphincter, making it more difficult to pass the gas.
Common relief measures include abdominal massage, applying pressure to the abdomen, bicycling the infant’s legs, and performing the “air chair” (hold baby with their back against your chest. Gently bend baby’s knees and press the bent legs into baby’s chest). Breast feeding moms will try eliminating different foods from their diets, while formula feeding moms switch formulas. Parents are also recommended to give their infant oral preparations such as chamomile tea, gripe water and/or simethicone (brand name Mylicon).
There is now a new remedy which is getting attention: probiotics. According to the World Health Organization probiotics are live bacteria which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. What does that mean to you and your baby? The gut requires “good” bacteria for digestion and protects us from infection. As the infant is building his gut flora during the first three months, there is growing evidence that a daily dose of probiotics may boost the number of good bacteria and ease the baby’s digestion, i.e., LESS GAS!
A recent study published in Pediatrics (Vol. 119, No, 1, 2007) compared probiotics with the use of simethicone in the treatment of infantile colic. Infants were given a daily dose of either probiotics or simethicone for 28 days. After seven days, the babies given probiotics cried an average of 18 minutes less per day. At the end of 28 days, the infants on probiotics cried 94 minutes less on average per day than the babies who were treated with simethicone. This is great news for any parents who are desperately trying to calm a fussy, colicky, irritable baby.
Probiotics are available in many health food stores. The preparation appropriate for infants generally comes in a powder and requires reconstituting with water. A great new product available from Sweden is called Biogaia
. The advantage of this product is that it in liquid form. Parents are able to simply eye dropper a few drops into their infant’s mouth each day. The only trick to using this preparation is that it must be kept cold.
If you are the parent of a seemingly inconsolable fussy, irritable baby, probiotics may be of great help. Assuming that your health care provider has determined that your baby is healthy, just “fussy, high-needs, colicky”, this remedy is worth considering.