Giving Hope to Preemies and Crohn's Patients
March 24, 2005
 
Babies who are born prematurely and adults who suffer from Crohn's disease are both at risk for developing short bowel syndrome making it difficult for them to absorb nutrients, and possibly even tying them to an I.V. for feeding.

Kelly Tappenden, a researcher at the University of Illinois found that adding a short-chain fatty acid to the intravenous nutrition solution not only causes intestine to grow back but makes it more functional as well.

Scientist have known for a long time that consuming a lot of dietary fiber causes intestine to grow, so Tappenden began experimenting with adding fermentative products to an I.V. solution. She tested her hypothesis using newborn piglets. Piglets are an excellent model for the human infant because they have a similar metabolism and physiology.

Her experiment worked. Not only was there more intestine, but what was there, was more functional and able to transport more nutrients. Tappenden hopes that this will help take some patients off I.V.s completely or at least reduce the number of daily I.V. feedings needed.