BB-12 probiotic strain may help lessen the impact of colic in infants, says study

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / CHIARI_VFX
© Getty Images / CHIARI_VFX

Related tags Probiotics BB-12

A new scientific trial suggests that Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB‐12 may offer relief for infants experiencing colic.

Colic is a common problem throughout the world, with as many as 25% of infants suffering from the condition, which is characterized by long periods of crying and fussing with no obvious known cause.

The new study, conducted by Professor Roberto Berni Canani, shows that Chr. Hansen’s probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis​ subsp. lactis​ BB‐12 (BB‐12) strain may help to lower crying duration in infants and the overall number of crying bouts.

Probiotic strain study

The aim of the recently published study was to determine the rate of infants that experienced a 50% reduction or more of the mean length of daily crying. The study also analyzed whether the probiotic intervention had an effect on infants’ daily number of crying episodes, sleeping times, the number of bowel movements and stool consistency.

A randomized controlled trial took place on 80 breastfed infants, who were all seven weeks old or younger and had been diagnosed with colic according to Rome III criteria. The criteria is used to create scientific data to help diagnose and provide treatment therapies for gastrointestinal disorders. As part of the study, the infants experiencing colic were randomly allocated to either receive 1 billion live bacteria per day in BB‐12 oil drops or a placebo for 28 days.

The study used the commercial product Bifidolactis Infant ​by Italian probiotic player Sofar SpA. Sofar also funded the study. BB-12 is a trademark of Chr. Hansen.

While both the mean number of crying episodes and daily stool frequency decreased for both the BB-12 and placebo group, the infants receiving the BB‐12 probiotic strain saw a more significant reduction.

Of those infants supplemented with BB-12, 80% met the trial primary endpoint criteria, demonstrating a decrease in the amount of crying by 50% or more. 

Importance of gut microbiota?

Professor Roberto Berni Canani and his research team found that using BB-12 as a probiotic supplement is effective in managing infant colic.

“The effect could derive from immune and non‐immune mechanisms associated with a modulation of gut microbiota structure and function,” ​the researchers stated in their study’s conclusion.

Commenting on the impact of the study, which focuses on BB-12, an ingredient used in food and dietary supplements, Chr. Hansen’s senior scientific advisor, Ulla Holmboe Gondolf, said: “The probiotic strain Bifidobacterium (BB-12) may ease colic by modifying the microbiota in infants with intestinal dysbiosis. The results indicate that the strain does this by increasing bifidobacterial abundance and by inhibiting the increase of harmful bacteria.”

Impact of colic

Although the exact reason for the onset of colic is unknown, it is one of the most frequent reasons for parents pursuing medical advice and guidance during their baby’s first three months.

“As a father of four, I know all too well the impact on the whole family of a crying baby that just can’t be soothed,” ​commented Andrew Scorey, head of Human Health at Chr. Hansen.

Identified by severe pain in the abdomen caused by wind or obstruction in the intestines, colic is identified by a difficulty to soothe and settle, clenched fists, a red face, knees brought up to the chest, and a rumbling stomach or excessive wind. Infants with colic have lower levels of good bacteria in their digestive tracts and simultaneously, higher amounts of undesirable bacteria.

Source: Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/apt.15561​ 
“The therapeutic efficacy of ​Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. ​lactis (BB-12) in infant colic: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial”
Authors: R. Nocerino et al.

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