Compositional development of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus microbiota is linked with crying and fussing in early infancy

PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32495. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032495. Epub 2012 Mar 5.


Objectives: Our aim was to establish whether there is an interconnection between the compositional development of the gut microbiota and the amount of fussing and crying in early infancy.

Methods: Behavioral patterns of 89 infants during the 7(th) and 12(th) week of life were recorded in parental diaries. Total distress was defined as the sum of daily amounts of crying and fussing. Infants' gut microbiota profiles were investigated by several molecular assays during the first six months of life.

Results: The median (range) duration of total distress among the infants was 106 (0-478) minutes a day during the 7(th) and 58 (0-448) minutes a day during the 12(th) week. The proportion of Bifidobacterium counts to total bacterial counts was inversely associated with the amount of crying and fussing during the first 3 months of life (p = 0.03), although the number of Bifidobacterium breve was positively associated with total distress (p = 0.02). The frequency of Lactobacillus spp. at the age of 3 weeks was inversely associated with total infant distress during the 7(th) week of life (p = 0.02).

Conclusions: Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus appear to protect against crying and fussing. Identification of specific strains with optimal protective properties would benefit at-risk infants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bifidobacterium / genetics*
  • Bifidobacterium / isolation & purification*
  • Crying*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior*
  • Lactobacillus / genetics*
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification*
  • Male
  • Metagenome*
  • Time Factors