April 19/Bari, Italy/Australian Associated Press (AAP) -- A probiotic strain offers new hope for parents with babies suffering from colic, an expert says.

Colic is a big issue for babies, as it represents 40% of pediatric consultations, says Professor Flavia Indrio, a senior consultant in pediatric gastroenterology from the University of Bari, Italy.

Colic causes excessive crying in an otherwise healthy infant, says the.

However, new research shows that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri can improved feeding tolerance, gut function and reduce gas production, which can lead to colicky behavior in newborns.

Colic occurs in up to 40% of babies, in both breast and bottle-fed infants, and is a common cause of postnatal depression, she said.

"The stress involves all of the family and creates a vicious cycle of stress for the mother, the father and the baby," she said.

"Probiotics, including Lactobacillus reuteri, create a more favorable intestinal environment and promote the maturation of intestinal functions," Indrio said.

From the April 19, 2011,Prepared Foods' Daily News