Exactly What We Expected: “Bacterial Signature” Found in Colicky Babies

A few days ago, I noted that the association between smoking and baby colic was another piece of evidence pointing to a broader smoking/microbiota link.

A couple of commenters, drawing from familial experience, helpfully pointed out that colic isn’t always a result of smoking during pregnancy — it wasn’t the case in their experience. This is a very well-taken point, and I responded that in the specific case of colic, the microbiota link is much more important than the smoking link. Smoking may be just one of many ways to achieve the dysbiosis that may be at the root of colic.

Well, now we see a new report showing just that:

The research identified a distinct bacterial “signature” in the guts of infants with colic, a term that describes babies who cry for more than three hours a day without a medical reason.

In the first few weeks of life, the research found, colicky babies had higher numbers of bacteria from a group called Proteobacteria in their guts compared to babies without colic. Proteobacteria include bacteria known to produce gas, which may cause pain in infants and lead to crying, said study researcher Carolina de Weerth, a developmental psychologist at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

Once again, our good friends the Proteobacteria. As we’ve noted plenty of times now, bacteria from the Proteobacteria phylum go down when you stop smoking, and probably go up when you do smoke (they also go down when you eat plant fiber, and vice versa). Not only that, but we’ve shown that smoking directly introduces live pathogenic bacteria into smokers. What phylum do all of these pathogenic bacteria belong to? Take a wild guess.

Is it really any wonder that smoking is a great way to induce colic in newborn babies? It’s almost certainly not the only way. But it’s clearly a very, very good way.

Oh, and once again we see the “golden ratio” of microbiota — or at least a significant part of it — implicated in another disease. So there’s also that.

— Heisenbug


7 thoughts on “Exactly What We Expected: “Bacterial Signature” Found in Colicky Babies

  1. Beyond my (hopefully obviously) tongue-in-cheek comment above, it seems like L.Reuteri is helpful for colic. It’s supposed to come from breast milk, but perhaps the baby wasn’t breast-fed, or maybe the mother didn’t have enough in her system.

  2. I know you’ve mentioned that fermentable fiber is the heavy hitter when it comes to upping the good bacteria to the exclusion of the bad. But I do think insoluble plant fiber can play a role too.

    I notice general well-being increases eating plenty of lettuces and raw carrot. Perhaps clearing endo-toxin might be important here.

  3. This does draw a *loose* connection to the use of BioGaia for colicky babies. Costs a lot, but can apparently work miracles — especially for formula fed babies.

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