Any parent of a colicky baby knows how painful it can be for the baby, as well as stressful for the parents. The hardest part is that there just aren’t many effective treatments for the most common GI problems in babies.

But now there's some hope in the form of a new treatment: Probiotics.

GI problems in babies appear to be linked to GI problems later in life, namely irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition which affects millions of Americans. Some studies have even suggested that infant colic and migraines in adolescents and adults are related.

Babies cried roughly a half hour less each day, and parents saved an average of $120 in fewer visits to the pediatrician. There were no negative side effects.

Infant GI issues can cause parents incredible amounts of stress and exhaustion, not to mention pediatrician visits and lost work days. Past research hinted that probiotics can help regulate the infants’ intestines, and reduce the severity of colic and other GI problems.

Italian researchers enrolled more than 550 parents of newborns who gave either a probiotic or a placebo to their babies for three months. The parents recorded their babies’ bowel movements, vomiting, constipation, inconsolable crying, along with the number of visits to the pediatrician and the cost of those visits.

At the end of three months, babies who had received probiotics fared much better in most measures than babies who had been given a placebo. They cried less than 40 minutes each day, compared to over 70 in the Placebo group, and threw up significantly less often. Their parents saved an average of $120 in fewer visits to the pediatrician. There were no negative side effects reported by the parents in either of the groups.

Given how common colic and other GI issues are in young babies, the researchers plan to expand their efforts. Preventing colic by giving probiotics before symptoms really begin might be a very good option — not just for the health of the baby, but for the mental health and peace of mind of the parents.

The study is published in JAMA Pediatrics.