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Simethicone drops are an over-the-counter drug used to treat symptoms of bloating and gas. They belong to the antiflatulent class of medications, and they’re widely used to treat colicky pain in infants, but their efficacy is debatable.

Colic is a condition difficult to investigate and treat — its large placebo effect, impermanency, and the unknown set of causes make colic a unique phenomenon. Colicky pain affects many infants worldwide, and it’s found in male and female babies at similar frequency rates. Also, the incidence of colic in breastfed and bottle-fed babies is similar. Colic passes on its own after three to six months of age, when babies adapt to life outside the womb, but several treatments have been in use, including Simethicone drops. [1]

What Is Simethicone?

Simethicone is an anti-foaming agent able to reduce discomfort and bloating caused by excessive gas and it has been around for a long time. It’s commonly available in the form of regular and chewable tablets, capsules, and the only way for babies and small children to ingest — liquid form.

Most gas-relieving products for infants as well as adults are made with Simethicone. The anti-foaming agent works by making gas easier to pass by combining small gas bubbles into bigger ones, making them easier and faster to pass. Simethicone is not absorbed into the body, so it is considered relatively safe [2], with some mild allergies reported, but does it actually work in the treatment of colicky pain in infants?

Science On The Effectiveness Of Simethicone Baby Drops On Colic

Studies claim that Simethicone doesn't help with colic. Pediatrics conducted a study on eighty-three babies between two and eight weeks old, all suffering from colicky symptoms. There was no significant difference in results between the group who received Simethicone drops, and the group that received a placebo. [3]

Two other studies showed no significant improvements in colicky pain when treated with Simethicone. [4]

One study on Simethicone drops with the trade name Mylicon showed the medication successful as it alleviated colicky symptoms in the majority of the treated babies [5]. This could be due to the placebo effect, or because of the time that passed, as we know that colicky symptoms tend to improve over time. [6]

If you’re interested in trying whether it would help your baby, ask your pediatrician for advice. They probably know your baby’s history and will know if the baby needs the medication. Simethicone is prescribed only in cases of severe colic, but more and more doctors avoid treating colic with medications as it’s considered a developmental ailment that eventually goes away on its own.

Simethicone And Other Stomach Troubles

Breastfed babies tend to swallow air while feeding, especially if the mother has a forceful letdown reflex. Getting too much milk too quickly may result in tummy troubles, fussiness, and colic, among other issues. [78]

Also, some baby formulas can make babies gassier than usual. The more mixing and shaking is involved in the preparation of your baby’s food, the more gas remains trapped in the mixture. [9] If you suspect that your current formula doesn't suit your baby, try a different one in consultation with your pediatrician. Sometimes a simple thing such as switching formula may relieve so many tummy troubles, including colic. [10]

Simethicone is able to relieve gas, reduce bloating, and several other stomach issues in humans, as well as in animals, that’s for certain [11], but whether it can help with baby colic is still debatable. It may be good in relieving gas and bloating, but as long as we don’t know the exact cause for colic and only assume it originates in the belly, we can only speculate about its effectiveness.

Interactions With Other Medications

Talk to your pediatrician if you’re planning on giving Simethicone baby drops to your child, as they may interact with other medications. Parents reported a possible interaction between Simethicone and a medication for congenital hypothyroidism called levothyroxine. Despite the right medication dosage, thyroid stimulating hormone was still high. [12]

Liothyronine is another thyroid medication not working well when taken close together with a dose of Simethicone. To minimize the interaction, it is recommended to take them at least four hours apart.

In Summary

Simethicone has its benefits, it’s undeniable. It can relieve gas and bloating caused by gas by dispersing the gas bubbles, but three well-conducted studies showed it nothing better than placebo in the treatment of colic. [13]

Nevertheless, many parents still claim it effective. The good thing about Simethicone is that it’s non-absorbable, which makes it relatively safe for babies. If you have a baby with colicky pain and want to test its efficacy, talk to your doctor before buying the medication as it may react with certain medications. Here’s a list of potentially dangerous treatments for colicky pain in infants you should avoid.

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