Probiotics support undeveloped digestion
The new four-week study investigated the effect of probiotic drops on gastric emptying time (how long it takes the stomach to empty after a meal) and frequency of GER episodes in 34 infants. The babies, ranging from three weeks to 12 months old, were healthy, yet had experienced GER two or more times per day for three or more weeks.
In total, 19 babies received a probiotic, Lactobacillus reuteri, in a dose of 100 million colony forming units per day in drop form. The other babies received a matching placebo. The investigators compared gastric emptying time in the babies with reflux with that of babies without reflux and asked the parents to record the number of times per day that their baby had reflux.
Babies who were given the probiotic had significantly faster gastric emptying than babies in the placebo group, meaning that the food left their stomachs faster, decreasing the chance of reflux. The frequency of reflux was also significantly lower in the probiotic group, with only one episode per day, compared with four episodes per day in the placebo group.
Tips for reducing GER in your baby
- Burp that baby: If breastfeeding, burp your baby before you switch sides. If you're formula-feeding, burp your baby several times throughout a feeding. Avoid putting pressure on your baby's tummy by putting them over your shoulder; instead, support baby's head with your hand while rubbing and/or lightly patting their back.
- Thicken it up: Try adding a little bit of rice cereal to baby's formula or breast-milk. This gives a little more substance to the milk, with the hope that it won't come back up as easily. Check with your doctor if your baby is less than four months old.
- Don't lay me down, just yet. Feed your baby in an upright position and try to keep him or her upright for 30 minutes after a meal. This gives the stomach a chance to empty, lessening the chance that the contents will come back up to cause reflux.
- Give probiotics a try: There are many over-the-counter formulations with L. reuteri. Check with your child's doctor to see what one is right for your baby.
(Eur J Clin Invest 2010;doi:10.1111/j.1365-2362.2010.02425)