Infants in the News

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The Children's Hospital Informatics Program at Harvard has developed tools that you can use online, including HealthMap.

Maybe it’s just me, but every time I hear about a local case of E.coli or some other disease, I get the morbid urge to go visit HealthMap to see if my community has company. If you’re not familiar with this program, it’s a project of the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program at Harvard, which has developed tools that you can use online or download.

On the device front, Tanita has put out a new scale this year for weighing preemies and tiny infants called the BD-815U Pediatric/Neonatal Scale. It measures in .1 oz increments up to 12 lbs and has an RS-232 output for data capture. At the opposite end of the weight spectrum appear to be infants left in the care of someone other than their parents; a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine suggests this puts them at risk of being overweight. This can be related — at least in part – to the feeding practices observed in the infants, such as early cessation of breast feeding and the early introduction of solid food. (The collective sigh that you hear in the background as you read this is from guilt-ridden working parents.) The very same issue also has an interesting study regarding the effect of nutrition early in life on intellectual capability in adulthood.

And the topic of infants also brings me to news from Johns Hopkins regarding a study of vitamin A supplementation that was published in Pediatrics. It was a large study, covering just shy of 16,000 infants born in rural Bangladesh, which found that a 50,000 IU oral dose of vitamin A within a few days of birth reduced the risk of death from all causes by a whopping 15%. We’ve known about the benefit of vitamin A supplementation in children since the 1980’s, but this study strongly supports other evidence that supplementation reduces infant mortality. If this is true in Asia, it may also be true in Africa and other impoverished areas where a low-cost intervention could make a significant impact. Good news, no?

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