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Lactase may relieve colic

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In my book, Milk Is Not for Every Body, I said:
    One side note: LI is probably not causing what even doctors call "the distressing syndrome of infantile colic." Lactase drops and low-lactase milks have been tried with no significant effect on crying or fussing.
Good thing I said "probably." A recent British experiment contradicts this. Tania Rivera of Colief Infant Drops sent me a summary of "Improvement of Symptoms of Infant Colic Following Reduction of Lactose Load with Lactose," by D. Kanabar, M. Randhawa, and P. Clayton in the October 2001 issue of The Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (2001:14, 359-363).

53 babies who met the criteria of three hours a day of full force crying for three days or more were recruited for the study. Formula-fed babies were given bottles pre-treated with the lactase enzyme and breastfeeding mothers were instructed to express their foremilk, treat it with lactase, and feed it to the baby before resuming normal breastfeeding.

This was a double blind, placebo-controlled study, the highest standard.

The lactase-treated milk reduced total crying time by at least 45% over the placebo in 35% of the infants.

This is an interesting, if hardly world-shaking, result. At best, it indicates that trying out reduced-lactose milk on a colicky baby may have some effect. Although to a sleep-deprived parent, cutting total crying time in half is surely far better than not cutting it at all.

You should note that these were babies with no other gastroenterologic problems. Sometimes crying is a symptom of more serious ailments than colic.


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