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
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Hunger and malnourishment are on the rise among children in five American cities, but mostly in Boston, a new hospital study reports. The Boston Medical Center (BMC) has seen a marked increase in underweight and undernourished children, The Boston Globe reports:
Before the economy soured in 2007, 12 percent of youngsters age 3 and under whose families were randomly surveyed in the hospital’s emergency department were significantly underweight. In 2010, that percentage jumped to 18 percent, and the tide does not appear to be abating, said Dr. Megan Sandel, an associate professor of pediatrics and public health at BMC.
“Food is costing more, and dollars don’t stretch as far,’’ Sandel said. “It’s hard to maintain a diet that is healthy.’’
Pediatricians at hospitals in four other cities – Baltimore; Little Rock, Ark.; Minneapolis; and Philadelphia – also reported increases in the ranks of malnourished, hungry youngsters in their emergency rooms since 2008. But Boston’s increases were more dramatic, said Sandel, a lead investigator with Children’s HealthWatch, a network of researchers who track children’s health. Researchers said higher housing and heating costs in Massachusetts probably exacerbated the state’s surge.
The emergency room survey found a similarly striking increase in the percentage of families with children who reported they did not have enough food each month, from 18 percent in 2007 to 28 percent in 2010.
The article reported that BMC has also noted a 58 percent increase in the past 5 years in the number of severely underweight babies referred to the hospital’s intensive infant nutrition program called The Grow Clinic. The clinic’s current patient load is similar to typical figures from developing countries.