Mom Cures Son's Illness

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yakultFew things can make a parent feel more helpless than a sick child who won't get well. But just hours after her son Riley was born, that is exactly the situation Anne Anderson found herself in. Within 12 hours of his birth, doctors noticed the little boy was suffering from some sort of bloating syndrome. His skin was stretched tight across his abdomen and his distended belly dwarfed his tiny newborn head. Riley was whisked away to a special children's hospital where he was fitted with a feeding tube while doctors tried to work out what was causing the bloating. Unable to come up with a cause, they sent Riley home.

He did not improve. "He was bloating up and being sick and if he did need to go to the toilet he was constantly screaming," said Anderson. Desperate to give her son some relief, Anderson began experimenting with his diet. When changing his milk didn't help, she decided to do some research. She discovered that doctors had given Riley an antibiotic that kills natural bacteria in the body. This led to her wonder if he wasn't suffering from some sort of bacterial imbalance that was preventing him from digesting his food. To test her theory, she fed him Yakult, a milk-like drink that contains probiotics. "I gave him Yakult and he was fine within the first couple of days of him having it," she said.

She became even more convinced that she was on to something when a round of antiobiotics given a few weeks later caused his stomach to bloat once a gain. She dosed him with Yakult and again, his stomach returned to normal.

Dr Henry Mulenga, a member of the Royal College of Paediatricians, says Riley's digestive problems -- and his cure -- isn't all that rare. "We are beginning to hear more and more of these type of stories. In my view it is very possible. There is no doubt that some conditions can be improved by introducing healthy bacteria. Many parents may feel that is the case. The difficulty we have with very small babies is whether it is entirely safe to do so."

Dr. Mulenga doesn't explain just why probiotics might be unsafe for a very small child but Riley was already 10 months old before his mother fed him the live microorganism mixture. The Yakult website claims that probiotics are safe for adults and children alike and that there are no harmful side effects. Still, if your child is having similar digestive problems, you should consult your doctor before trying this yourself.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.