Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that assist in balancing the population of bacteria in the intestines by capturing the bacteria, which causes diseases. It has been shown that children with constipation have different types of bacteria in their stool when compared with healthy children. This suggests that consuming probiotics might help in easing constipation in children.
Studies have shown that almost three percent of babies have constipation before they complete their first year. Usually, babies develop constipation at the time when they switch from breast milk to formula or from baby food to solid food.
To analyse the effect of probiotics on infants’ with constipation, researchers carried out the study on 44 infants, who were at least six months old; all infants had been reported with chronic constipation. Half of these infants were prescribed a dose of Lactobacillus reuteri. Lactobacillus reuteri is a bacterium that is found in the intestines of some people. The dose of this bacterium was to be given by mixing it with a few drops of oil once a day for eight weeks. The remaining infants were given an inactive placebo. Parents of the participants were asked to keep a record of how often the baby had a bowel movement and the thickness of the stool. Additionally, researchers also asked parents to note the inconsolable crying spells of babies.
It was concluded that babies consuming probiotics had more bowel movements than babies, who were prescribed placebo. This conclusion was made on the basis of record collected after two, four, and eight weeks suggesting an improvement in their constipation. After the initiation of study, the probiotic babies on average had less than three bowel movements per week. By the eighth week, the average was almost five.
The study showed that probiotics, apart from being a natural, safe and well-tolerated treatment was also a simple way of treating chronic constipation in babies.