Friday, February 1st, 2013
An inexpensive course of antibiotics, when given in conjunction with long-used nutritional treatments, could save tens of thousands of children’s lives each year, two new studies have concluded. More from The New York Times:
The studies, in Malawi, led by scientists from Washington University in St. Louis, reveal that severe malnutrition often involves more than a lack of food, and that feeding alone may not cure it.
The antibiotic study found that a week of the medicine raised survival and recovery rates when given at the start of a longer course of a tasty “therapeutic food” made from peanut butter fortified with milk powder, oil, sugar and micronutrients. Malnourished children are prone to infections, and the drugs — either amoxicillin or cefdinir — were so helpful that researchers said medical practice should change immediately to include an antibiotic in the routine treatment of severe malnutrition.
“This is ready for prime time,” said Dr. Indi Trehan, an author of the study. The study was published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. The senior author is Dr. Mark J. Manary, an expert on malnutrition and one of the pioneers in using the fortified peanut butter, which researchers say has saved countless lives.
Because of the results, the World Health Organization expects to recommend broader use of antibiotics in guidelines on treating malnutrition that are to be issued next month, said Zita Weise Prinzo, a technical officer in the group’s nutrition department. A week’s worth of drugs costs only a few dollars, so governments and donors are likely to accept the idea, researchers say.
Image: Empty hands, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
Babies who are given antibiotics before six months of age are at greater risk of being overweight children, a new study has found. Yahoo News reports:
“We typically consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly studies suggest it’s more complicated,” said co-author Leonardo Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine.
“Microbes in our intestines may play critical roles in how we absorb calories, and exposure to antibiotics, especially early in life, may kill off healthy bacteria that influence how we absorb nutrients into our bodies, and would otherwise keep us lean.”
The study adds to a growing body of research warning of the potential dangers of antibiotics, especially for children.
Preliminary studies have linked changes in the trillions of microbial cells in our bodies to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and other conditions. However, direct causal proof has not yet been found.
This was the first study analyzing the relationship between antibiotic use and body mass starting in infancy.
Image: Cute baby, via Shutterstock
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Friday, August 10th, 2012
The cause of chronic sinus problems that a 6-year-old Utah boy has been suffering for 3 years has finally been identified to both the relief and surprise of his family and doctors: Isaak Lasson had a flexible Lego wheel jammed up his nose. MSNBC.com has more:
Despite numerous trips to the doctor, no one knew what was making it so hard for the poor kid to breathe. Over the years, Isaak was prescribed multiple rounds of antibiotics.
Then, in late July, one doctor took a good look and noticed something in that little nostril that didn’t belong. When the doctor asked him what it could be, KSL reported, Isaak said, “I put some spaghetti up there, but that was a long time ago.” A trip to a specialist finally revealed the culprit – a fairly large Lego piece wrapped in a wad of fungus. Yum.
Luckily, now that his airways are free and clear, Isaak’s not only breathing better, he’s also sleeping and eating better and has more energy. His parents feel bad about the whole thing — but how could they have known?
“I asked him, ‘Dude, how did that even get in there?’” Craig Lasson, Isaak’s dad, told the news station. “We think he bent it in half — it’s pretty flexible — and that it opened up once it got into his sinuses.”
Image: Colored building bricks, via Shutterstock
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Friday, June 22nd, 2012
A new study has found that over the past decade, more medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are being prescribed to U.S. children and teenagers, while fewer antibiotics are being prescribed. One-quarter of all prescriptions given to children are still for antibiotics, the study reports, but overall the number of antibiotics prescriptions has fallen 14 percent during the years 2002-2010. Yahoo News reports on the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics:
Overall, prescriptions for kids ages 0-17 dropped seven percent during that time period, while prescription drugs dispensed to adults rose 22 percent, it said.
“Children are experiencing fewer serious medical problems than perhaps they had in the past,” said Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New York.
The report tracked the number of prescriptions dispensed for the youths, not the number of patients, and was based on two major US commercial prescription databases.
A key rise was seen in stimulant medications for ADHD, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes as one of the most common neurobehavioral conditions of childhood, affecting about five million children.
Image: Toddler taking medicine, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 29th, 2011
Despite laboratory research by the company that makes Enfamil powdered infant formula that showed the powder to be free of the harmful environmental bacteria Cronobacter, more cases of ill babies have parents remaining confused over the product’s safety. Last week, Wal-Mart recalled the formula until the investigation is clearly resolved. The Washington Post reports on the additional illnesses:
An Oklahoma baby is the third infant this month sickened by a rare type of bacteria sometimes associated with tainted powdered infant formula.
The child, from Tulsa County, was infected with Cronobacter sakazakii but fully recovered, health officials said Wednesday. An Illinois child also rebounded after being sickened by the bacteria. A Missouri infant who was 10 days old died.
The Missouri child, Avery Cornett of Lebanon, had consumed Enfamil Newborn powdered infant formula made by Illinois-based Mead Johnson. Powdered formula has been suspected in illnesses caused by the bacteria in years past.
But health officials say the Oklahoma child had not consumed Enfamil. And Mead Johnson this week reported that its own testing found no bacteria in the product.
U.S. officials are awaiting results from their own testing of powdered formula and distilled water — also known as ‘nursery water’ — used to prepare it.
The cases occurred in roughly the same region of the country. At this point, it’s not clear that they are connected, said Barbara Reynolds, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman.
Symptoms can include irritability, lethargy, fever, vomiting and seizures. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, but it’s still deemed extremely dangerous to babies less than 1 month old and those born premature. An estimated 40 percent of illnesses from the bacteria end in death.
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