Cause Of Colic Linked To A Common Bacterium

Cause of Baby Colic

A common bacterium normally found in the intestines and mouth has been found to be a cause of colic, the persistent crying of an otherwise healthy baby. The researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found the organism in the intestinal tract of babies that had colic.

Until now, a cause of colic has remained elusive. Researchers have explored several possibilities, including allergies, maternal stress, an immature digestive system, and lactose intolerance. Yet it has been unclear why some babies develop colic while others do not. Thus, treatment for this potentially dangerous condition has also remained a challenge.

According to the investigators in this recent study, which was published in the online edition of the Journal of Pediatrics, the organism Klebsiella was found in the intestines of babies that had colic. The investigators believe the bacterium may be causing the inflammation also found in the gut of colicky babies. The inflammation in babies with colic is similar to that seen in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. It is believed that colic could be a precursor to this and other gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease.

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Other dangers associated with colic include death: more than half of infanticides occur in infants three months old or younger. Parents also often become frustrated and anxious over the crying, which can lead to postpartum depression, maternal anxiety, and thoughts of harming the infant.

Colic is defined as unexplained and severe crying in infants who are otherwise healthy. It typically develops in babies who are three months older or younger and lasts for more than three hours daily for at least three days a week. Colic affects about 15 percent of normal infants.

Currently pediatricians often prescribe hypoallergenic infant formula to treat colic, but this strategy has not been effective. The results of this study have prompted researchers to begin more studies to determine whether the use of probiotics (beneficial bacteria in a dietary supplement) could control the harmful bacteria. Before a study can be done in infants, researchers will be using the probiotics in adults. Perhaps a significant cause of colic has finally been found.

Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston


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