Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University has found that worldwide maternal deaths could drop by at least a third if steps were taken to meet the contraception needs of women in developing countries. From The New York Times:
The study, published on Tuesday in The Lancet, a British science journal, comes ahead of a major family planning conference in London organized by the British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is an attempt to refocus attention on the issue. It has faded from the international agenda in recent years, overshadowed by efforts to combat AIDS and other infectious diseases, as well as by ideological battles.
The proportion of international population assistance funds that went to family planning fell to just 6 percent in 2008, down from 55 percent in 1995, while spending on H.I.V./AIDS represented 74 percent of the total in 2008, up from just 9 percent in 1995, according to Rachel Nugent, a professor of global health at the University of Washington, who cited figures from the United Nations Population Fund.
But population growth has continued to surge, with the United Nations estimating last year that the world’s population, long expected to stabilize, will instead keep growing. Population experts warn that developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, where fertility continues to be high and shortages of food and water are worsening, will face deteriorating conditions if family sizes do not shrink.
Image: Young girl, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, March 8th, 2012
A new food allergy treatment could allow children to safely consume foods that once would have been life-threatening, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Duke University are hoping.
The scientists are testing whether “sublingual therapy,” in which tiny amounts of the allergenic substance–such as milk–are placed under the patient’s tongue, could desensitize the body enough to allow it to move on to “oral immunotherapy,” in which the patient swallows small amounts of the substance. In experiments, kids who did sublingual therapy before oral immunotherapy had better results.
CNN.com reports, however, that the treatment plan needs to be carefully honed to minimize the chances of triggering serious allergic reactions in children:
The results suggested that children who went through a year of sublingual therapy followed by one to two years of oral immunotherapy were less likely to have significant allergic reactions when undergoing the oral immunotherapy. Still, it did not eliminate all symptoms.
This is particularly important, because about 20% of the kids that [Dr. Robert] Wood [of Johns Hopkins] and colleagues work with have significant reactions during the treatment that make the therapy unfeasible, Wood said.
Some participants have shown they can safely eat milk products up to a year after stopping the therapies, Wood said. But only one-third have longterm protection. Others need regular exposure to milk in order to maintain protection against allergic reactions.
“With milk that’s not too hard,” Wood says, because one could “eat pizza a couple of times a week.”
Image: Boy drinking milk, via Shutterstock.
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