The Role Of Prebiotics in Helping Child Colic

The Role Of Prebiotics in Helping Child Colic

Child Colic and Prebiotics. What is the massive role that prebiotics play in helping with child colic?


Prebiotic oligosaccharides (OS) are the third most prevalent component in mother’s milk, and they are virtually absent in cow’s milk. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system in ways claimed to be beneficial to health. It is well known that the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota develops in a different way in breastfed and standard formula fed infants. (1) There are many aspects in the composition of mother’s milk and cow’s milk that contribute to these differences, such as the carbohydrate, protein, iron and phosphor content. (1)

In fact, the prebiotics are the food that bacteria consume and grow on. Hence, they lead to an increase in what is called “good bacteria” and a decrease in what is called “bad bacteria”. Prebiotics have beneficial effect on the microbiota, gut health and immunity. In fact, prebiotics allow the proper development of the gut and forms a layer that protects it from infections and allows the growth of gut in a healthy way. (1)

What is colics?
Colic is when an otherwise healthy baby cries or fusses frequently for no clear reason.
Features of colic include (2):

  • Crying for no obvious reason. As examples, they’re not hungry or don’t need a diaper change.
  • Crying around the same time(s) each day. Colicky babies often get fussy toward the end of the day. However, the crying can happen at any time.
  • Clenching their fists when crying or curling up their legs.
  • Crying like they’re in pain.
  • Turning bright red when crying.

What causes colics?
There is no clear reason however, researchers have looked into many possible reasons. Some of the contributing factors include (2):

  • Pain or discomfort from gas or indigestion
  • A digestive system that isn’t fully developed
  • Overfeeding or underfeeding
  • Sensitivity to formula or breast milk
  • Overstimulation
  • Early form of childhood migraine headache
  • Emotional reaction to fear, frustration, or excitement

Prebiotics and colics:
As mentioned previously and based on several studies, prebiotics helps the development of the gut and hence has a positive effect on the composition of the microbiota which will help the proper development of the gut and digestion leading to fewer cases of colics knowing that one of the reasons of colics is an undeveloped digestive system. (1) Having a good digestion will allow the child to digest properly proteins and lactose and will not cause cramps and abdominal discomfort which will decrease cases of crying and what is known for colics.

Reference:
1- Prebiotic effect of an infant formula supplemented with galacto-oligosaccharides: randomized multicenter trial. Marcello Giovannini 1, Elvira Verduci, Dario Gregori, Simonetta Ballali, Sara Soldi, Diana Ghisleni, Enrica Riva, PLAGOS Trial Study Group. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014;33(5):385-93. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2013.878232.
2- National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus: Colic and Crying https://familydoctor.org/condition/colic/

Dr. Pamela Cherfan,
Pediatrician