Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Of bugs, health, and interesting medical practices

Two news reports caught my eye today. Both deal with the importance of bacteria to our health: one in a normal sort of way, the other . . . well, let's just say that normal doesn't enter into it!

The Australian Daily Telegraph reports that research has confirmed the value of getting your children outside to play, so that they can come into contact with useful bacteria.

PARENTS, step away from the baby wipes and put that hand sanitiser away - eating dirt could actually make your child smarter.

Research published in the current issue of Kidsafe NSW's playgrounds newsletter shows the positive side of a soil-borne bacteria that is likely to be inhaled when children are playing outside.

Academics discovered that mice that were fed the dirt bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae navigated complex mazes twice as fast as those which were not.

The research, presented in the US earlier this year, was welcomed by Kidsafe NSW Playground Advisory Unit program manager Kate Fraser as another reason kids should be encouraged to get outside and get dirty.

"Over the past few years terms like 'cotton wool kids' and 'helicopter parents' are becoming really common," Ms Fraser said.

"So we thought it was time to air the laundry on what's happening with our play spaces and make sure we are offering kids challenges.

"We need to make playgrounds safe, but also offer a certain amount of risk and controlled risk. It's a real balancing act."

It is believed the bacteria increases levels of serotonin, reduces anxiety and may also stimulate growth in certain neurons in the brain.

There's more at the link.

From Sweden comes a report of a rather . . . er . . . different way of getting useful bacteria into your system!

The Swedish medical community is increasingly turning to what many patients consider a rather unappealing antidote for battling resistant 'superbug' bacteria.

Swedish researchers hope that bacteria extracted from healthy faeces can be used to develop new medicines to battle superbugs following the successful curing of a 60-year-old American woman who suffered from resistant bacteria in her stomach, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reported on Monday.

The woman beat the illness after doctors, following advice from Swedish researchers, administered an enema injecting the faeces of her healthy husband.

Physician Per Dahl of the infection clinic in Växjö in southern Sweden, who administers the technique to a handful of people each year, told the newspaper that the suggestion is not always met with resounding approval by the patient.

"Their first reaction is that it sounds disgusting and unpleasant to get another person's poop put into them," he told DN.

Doctors in Minnesota turned to the technique after they had exhausted all available antibiotics without any effect being registered on the woman's deteriorating health.

After having been administered the enema of her husband's bacteria-free faecal matter, the woman made an rapid recovery and immediately began to regain some of the 27 kilogrammes in weight she had lost over the previous eight months.

"It was very exciting to see if the new bacteria would grow. I examined the waste and there was an enormous difference," said microbiologist Johan Dicksved at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) to the newspaper.

Dicksved explained that his analysis showed that after a month the offending Clostridium difficile bacteria which had caused the woman's debilitating condition had gone, to be replaced by the new bacteria.

The method is becoming a more common feature of Swedish healthcare as cases of resistant bacteria increase, DN reported.

Again, more at the link.

I don't want to see any comments about being a party pooper!



Anonymous said...

Look at the things we did growing up.
And we lived.

LabRat said...

The poop transplant saves the day again!

The gut flora are not only vital to healthy digestion and to keeping out nasty invaders, they even seem to play a critical role in early training of the immune system to distinguish self from pathogen from innocuous foreign. So a baby that is never exposed to outside bacteria... would die, either from the first pathogen it encountered or from devastating autoimmune problems.

Christina RN LMT said...

Wait, why does it say "bacteria-free faecal matter"? I thought the whole point was to get *his* bacteria inside *her*? Is that just a typo/poor editing?