Preventing and Treating Colic

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019;1125:49-56. doi: 10.1007/5584_2018_315.


Colic is a common and distressing functional gastrointestinal disorder during infancy. It is a behavioral phenomenon in infants aged 1-4 months involving prolonged inconsolable crying and agitated status with multifactorial etiology. Colic can be considered as a benign, self-limited process because the baby normally grows and feeds even with transient irritable mood. Nevertheless, infantile colic is a common difficulty causing anxiety during parenthood and a recurrent reason for them to seek medical help, especially if it is the first child. The causes of colic can be classified as non-gastrointestinal or gastrointestinal. The former includes altered feeding techniques, modified child-parent relationship, immaturity of central nervous system, behavioral etiology, and maternal smoking or nicotine replacement therapy. Instead, the latter involves inadequate production of lactase enzyme, cow's milk protein intolerance, alteration of intestinal microbiota, gastrointestinal immaturity, or inflammation which causes intestinal hyperperistalsis due to increase in serotonin secretion and motilin receptor expression.Probiotics may play a crucial part in the manipulation of the microbiota. Probiotic administration is likely to maintain intestinal homeostasis through the modulation of permeability and peristalsis, influencing the gut-brain axis and inhibiting hypersensitivity. This is a decisive field in the development of preventive and therapeutic strategies for infantile colic. However, further studies are needed for each specific formulation in order to better characterize pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties and to evaluate their application as a possible preventive strategy if administered early during infancy against the later development of pain-related FGIDs.

Keywords: Enteric microbiota; Gut-brain axis; Infant colic; Lactobacillus; Probiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colic / etiology
  • Colic / prevention & control*
  • Colic / therapy*
  • Food Intolerance / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*