Cold cheese, please

Soft cheeses such as brie and camembert are safer eaten straight out of the fridge rather than being brought out at room temperature in order to develop the flavour, research by British scientists suggests. They have found that listeria, bacteria that cause a particularly dangerous form of food poisoning, seem to blossom if they are kept in chilled conditions and then moved to a warmer temperature.

The researchers, from the Centre for Applied Microbiology at Porton Down, write in New Scientist that listeria kept at fridge temperature double in number every 18 hours. Kept at room temperature, they double every 7.4 hours. When moved from fridge-like conditions to room temperature, however, they increase about eightfold in the same time.

Blood test helps pregnancy

A simple blood test to measure hormone levels in pregnant women could predict when a pregnancy might end in miscarriage and when medical intervention is necessary, according to researchers from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Their study, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that levels of the hormone progesterone were significantly lower in women who went on to have a miscarriage than in others.

Better baby bottles

Babies fed with anti-vacuum bottles suffer less colic than those whose mothers use conventional ones, according to a study of 145 infants carried out by researchers at the Dunn Nutrition Unit, Cambridge, and the Institute of Education at London University.

The study found that babies fed with the anti-vacuum bottle were closer in behaviour to breast-fed babies, had less colic and seemed more contented. The duration of colic was similar to that seen in breast-fed babies. Anti- vacuum bottles are designed to resemble the nipple and are thought to help to prevent the baby from swallowing air.

Good news for gums

A protein in children's teeth can repair tooth roots and jawbone in adults with advanced gum disease, say Swedish researchers. Amelogenin, which helps growing teeth to develop, is applied in gel form to the exposed surfaces of the roots, where it regenerates the ligament attaching the tooth to the jawbone.

A study of 130 patients with severe gum disease found those treated with the gel regained on average 66 per cent of peridontal ligament within 16 months, compared with no gain in a control group.The gel, called Emdogain, will soon be available throughout Europe, says a report in New Scientist.