Canadian experts on irritable bowel syndrome

September 16, 2015

New Canadian research is exploring the causes of this disease, including bacterial infections from food or water poisoning, which lead to a chronic low-level infection that in turn results in IBS symptoms. The research is also providing some hope for potential cures, including the use of probiotics and treatments to reduce stress levels.


The following CIHR-funded researchers are available to talk about IBS:

How pathogenic bacteria act to survive and thrive in the gut and how certain treatments, like probiotic yogurt can thwart them Dr. Philip Sherman, Scientific Director, CIHR-Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism, and Diabetes (Toronto)

How food or water poisoning, can trigger chronic IBS, and on the potential of probiotics to treat it. Dr. Stephen Collins, McMaster University (Hamilton)

The role of sex hormones in women suffering from IBS pain. Dr. Serge Marchand, Sherbrooke University

How gut talks and listens to the brain and spinal cord - and how the gut uses cannabinoids (chemicals related to the active ingredient in marijuana) to control its movements and sensations - including pain. Dr. Keith Sharkey, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary

How food and stress interact as triggers to exacerbate IBS, and how low levels of inflammation may persist and contribute to IBS symptoms even though the bowel appears to be normal. Dr. Stephen Vanner, Queen's University. (Kingston)

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to nearly 12,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada. www.cihr-irsc.gc


Between 36-38 weeks gestational age, breathing movements were identified using specific criterion. Measures of fetal heart rate and autonomic control were analyzed during episodes of fetal breathing and non-breathing movements. Although there was no difference in the number of breathing episodes, differences were noted between the groups.


The researchers found:

Fetal HR was significantly lower in the exercise group during both breathing and non-breathing movement periods. Fetal short-term and overall heart rate variability were higher in the exercise group during breathing movements. Three independent measures of vagal control were higher in the exercise-exposed fetuses during breathing movements. During periods of fetal non-breathing, there were no significant differences in measures of vagal control between groups. There were no group or breathing period differences in sympathetic heart rate control.


According to Drs. May and Gustafson, "These findings suggest a potential benefit of maternal exercise on fetal development because of the link between fetal breathing movements and the developing autonomic nervous system." Their next step is to use exercise as a potential intervention to improve short and long term outcomes in children born to women at risk for gestational diabetes.