HOUSTON -

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center are investigating whether a probiotic might help reduce gut inflammation in infants with colic and give families back their peace of mind.

"It started when she was a week old and she cried all day and all night," said Leslie Ruiz, whose first child Avery had colic and she said cried six to eight hours a day.

"At first everyone kept saying she is a baby, she is going to cry, but in our hearts we knew it was not right and that maybe a little fussiness would be normal. But she cried like she was in pain and we knew it was not right," said Ruiz, holding her baby who is now four and a half months old.

Ruiz said they tried different formulas and medications and then, desperate and willing to try anything, decided to try a UT study investigating if a probiotic may help babies with colic.

"These are babies who cry for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week and more than three weeks of age and they get better between three to four months of age," said Dr. J. Marc Rhoads, professor and director of pediatric gastroenterology at the UTHealth Medical School and director of the Endoscopy Laboratory at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Dr. Rhoads said colic is fairly common but extremely stressful and is associated with depression in parents.

"It was actually used as a technique to get people to confess to their crimes at Guantanamo Bay. They piped in the sound of crying babies," said Dr. Rhoads.

The study will determine the safety of a probiotic called Lactobacillus reuteri and measure its effect on gut inflammation.

"If studies in Europe are true we are going to find the babies have less crying time as early as two to three weeks after they start taking them," said Dr. Rhoads.

Avery's parents said the probiotic drops worked for her.

"There is a complete change. She is 200 percent better and it was definitely initiated by the drops. We could tell a difference in a week and three weeks there was a definite change," said her mother.

"It is so fun to come home from work now and just see a happy baby," said proud father, Daniel Ruiz, kissing his smiling baby.

The FDA is requiring the babies in the study are followed very carefully according to Dr. Rhoads.

The probiotic also was tested for three years on adults before it could be used in the study on infants.

Researchers are looking for up to 45 infants between the ages of three weeks and three months to be enrolled in the study through the UT Physicians Colic Clinic at UT Health.

The probiotic, made in Sweden, will be provided free of charge.

For information on the study, call 713-500-5669.