A low FODMAP diet for breastfeeding mums might hold the key to reducing colic in her infant, a new study has found.
The study published today in the journal, Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, suggests that a nutritious low FODMAP diet (that removes ‘windy’ foods) for nursing mothers could significantly reduce fussiness and crying in the first nine weeks of her newborn’s life.
The study involved 20 breastfeeding mothers with babies under nine weeks old with and without colic. Thirteen mothers whose infants showed significant signs of colic were monitored on a typical Australian diet, before being placed on a 10-day low FODMAP diet. The mothers kept a diary, recording infant crying, fussing sleep and awake times. A control group of seven mothers of babies without colic continued with their normal diet.
After 10 days on a low FODMAP diet, the study reported a 32% reduction in crying and fussiness associated with infantile colic.
Lead researcher Dr Marina Iacovou, from Monash University’s Department of Gastroenterology, said the significant improvement matched results of a pilot study of 18, published in Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.
“These findings suggest that a low FODMAP diet for exclusively breastfeeding mothers could significantly improve crying and fussing durations of infants with colic, when compared with a typical-Australian diet,” Dr Iacovou said.
“Interestingly, we also found that infants were awake for longer and more content following the low-FODMAP diet.”
Dr Iacovou, a practising dietitian, said a lack of evidence prompted this first randomised controlled feeding-trial of a low FODMAP maternal diet.
“It is very common for breastfeeding mothers to change their diet – on the grounds of old-wives tales and common beliefs, but therapeutic diets for infantile colic lack evidence,” Dr Iacovou said.
“The findings could help nursing mothers monitor and adjust their diet to help reduce the severity of their infant’s colic, but it’s important they seek the advice of their GP or qualified dietician before undertaking any new diet regime.”
Colic is a common medical problem linked to low rates of breastfeeding, post-natal depression and shaken-baby syndrome. It is one of the most common presentations of mothers and infants to emergency departments.
Note: The only other randomised controlled trials of maternal diet in breastfed infants evaluated hypoallergenic and dairy-free diets, but they were not controlled ‘feeding’ studies.