Researchers at Children's Hospital Los Angeles analyzed samples of human breast milk and infant intestinal tissue, along with a series of animal studies, and found that the protein neuregulin-4 in breast milk could protect babies from developing necrotizing enterocolitis.
Dr. Emeran Mayer of the University of California, Los Angeles, says that imaging scans show the connections between parts of the brain vary depending on the type of microbes that are found in the gut, suggesting a link between gastrointestinal microflora and brain structure. The study supports other research in animals that suggests connections between gut bacteria and brain chemistry and behaviors. The vagus nerve, which researcher John Cryan calls "the highway of communication between what's going on in the gut and what's going on in the brain," appears to be an important piece in the puzzle.
Kenan Varin hopes yet another risky surgery will finally cure his Hirschsprung disease, an anomaly in the large intestine that requires the 8-year-old to use a colostomy bag for bowel movements. The Haitian boy has been in New York awaiting surgery after several previous operations left him with complications and didn't fix the problem.
U.K. researchers found that when they removed the GSTP gene from mice predisposed to cancer of the small intestine, it led to a 50fold increase in adenomas, or precancerous growths. They said the gene, known for shielding the body from harmful chemicals, also may protect the body from inflammation of the bowel, which can lead to cancer.
Bile reflux -- a back-up of digestive fluid from the small intestine -- can often be mistaken for acid reflux, and misdiagnosis can lead to ulcers and even Barrett's esophagus. The condition is less well-known than acid reflux and treatments aren't as simple, but medications or surgery can often control bile reflux.