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Probiotics Can Help Prevent Gastrointestinal Distress in Newborns — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 14, 2014

Probiotics Can Help Prevent Gastrointestinal Distress in Newborns

By Amy Orciari Herman

Probiotics can reduce the onset of gastrointestinal disorders in newborns and lead to substantial savings in healthcare spending, according to a JAMA Pediatrics study.

Nearly 600 term infants less than 1 week old were randomized to receive Lactobacillus reuteri or placebo daily. After 3 months, parents in the treatment group reported significantly better outcomes for mean daily infant crying time (38 vs. 71 minutes with placebo), regurgitation episodes (2.9 vs. 4.6), and evacuations (4.2 vs. 3.6).

In addition, the treatment group had fewer emergency department visits, fewer days of parental work lost, and less use of products to control GI symptoms — translating to a mean savings of US$119 per patient (after accounting for the cost of the L. reuteri).

Editorialists call the results "encouraging," while noting that probiotics' mechanism of action in infantile gastrointestinal distress remains unknown, as do the long-term health effects.

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