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`Tummy bugs' may cure colic; Doctor claims special yogurt is `miracle cure' for agonising condition that affects many newborn babies.

COLIC is the curse of newborn babies. It makes them scream in agony for hours on end, usually at the same time each day and for no apparent reason.

Opinion is divided on the cause and there are countless theories as to how to control it.

Cranial osteopathy, aromatherapy cushions and even Indian gemstone medicine are just some of the techniques mothers swear by.

Frazzled parents can waste precious weeks sussing out the best way to deal with their child's colic and, by the time they have found an answer, have already endured countless hours of gut-wrenching crying.

Now new research is claiming to offer a more immediate solution - but even that is causing controversy.

Dr David Candy, an expert in children's digestive disorders at St Richard's Hospital in West Sussex, says that giving breast-feeding mothers live yogurt drinks containing "human- friendly" bugs which survive in the gut is calming colicky babies overnight.

Early tests of 40 breast-feeding mothers given the Japanese yogurt drink Yakult have had remarkable results - every mother reported that the colic stopped within 24 hours.

"It's very exciting news," says Dr Candy. "It is a world first, a miracle cure."

Doctors have suspected for years that colic can be triggered by a cow's milk intolerance in the baby. Taking mothers off cow's milk is not an option, because lactating women and babies need the calcium from milk.

The alternative is to introduce friendly bacteria into the mother's gut, which appears to eliminate allergies in both mother and baby.

Dr Candy explains: "In the olden days we used to eat all kinds of friendly bugs, because foods like cheese and olives were fermented to preserve them. Now everything is processed and pasteurised and our stomachs have forgotten how to cope with bugs.

"It's just like the asthma epidemic - cases are on the increase because we live in cleaner environments and our immune systems aren't used to bacteria."

Crucial to Dr Candy's theory is the type of yogurt you eat. Regular "live" dairy yogurts don't work. Specially prepared "probiotic" drinks, such as Yakult, Actimel and Go, contain friendly bugs created to survive in the human gut and to improve the balance of the intestines.

Dr Candy says it is safe for breast-feeding women to drink up to three a day, one with each meal, to relieve a colicky baby. Wynnie Chan, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, is more cautious.

She says: "This `cure' is based on the assumption that colic is caused by a cow's milk intolerance, which isn't necessarily the case.

"If you really do suspect you or your baby have a cow's milk intolerance, you should talk to your GP, midwife, or health visitor. We would only recommend drinking one Yakult drink or similar a day, in line with the manufacturer's recommendations, but don't let them give you false hope.

"By the time parents have got to the stage of looking for a cure, most babies are already growing out of it, so it is best not to get too hung up about it."

If you need advice on coping with a crying baby call the Cry-sis Helpline on 020 7405 5011, 8am - 11pm.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Murphy, Rachel
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 5, 2000
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