The Health News – 8 February 2017

• Premature babies experience more developmental delays compared with babies who were born full-term. Moderate to late pre-term children were three times at increased risk of delay in language development and about twice for cognitive and physical development.

• ProbiSafe, a type of good bacteria might soon be included in packed salad mixes in an attempt to fight off salmonella or listeria growth to make the food safer and healthier to eat.

• Healthy children in the Indian region of Bihar suffered sudden seizures and lost consciousness, one of them died. Eating too many lychees on an empty stomach might be the culprit behind this tragic incident with children.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  8th of February 2017. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

Moderate to late pre-term babies experience higher rates of developmental delay than their full-term counterparts, a new study has found.

Of the 7 per cent of babies who are born premature in Australia every year, 80 per cent — or 21,000 — are born between 32 and 36 weeks.

Melbourne physiotherapist Sarah Logie’s son Elliot was born two months early, after she was diagnosed with a life-threatening pregnancy complication.

… her son [is]… now a happy eight-month-old.

But like other premature babies, Elliot has been later to develop than his peers who were born full term at 37 or more weeks’ gestation.

“But in the back of the mind you have to think he was born two months earlier … so he had two months less time inside to develop … [she] said.

“So I kind of expect there to be a little bit of a delay.”

It is babies like Elliot that have been the focus of a new study at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics.

The La Prem study examined 200 moderate to late pre-term babies at birth and then again at two years old.

Associate Professor Jeanie Cheong led the research and said developmental delay varied between children.

“Particularly for language development, moderate to late pre-term children were three times at increased risk of delay compared with term peers and about twice that for cognitive and physical development,” she said.

“Perhaps we are seeing a continuum for prematurity in that even being born just a little bit early is enough to have some delay in development.”

Dr Cheong said the results have implications for health professionals and educators.

According to Dr Cheong, the findings should not be cause for alarm.

“Not every child born at 32 to 36 weeks has problems,” she said.

…[She said] said some parents have found that to be very reassuring.

Friendly bacteria could soon be introduced to bagged salad mixes to try to prevent salmonella or listeria outbreaks.

University of Queensland researchers have begun a two-year, $800,000 study in conjunction with Horticulture Innovation Australia, into adding the bacteria ProbiSafe.

It comes after 300 people in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia fell ill in February last year after an outbreak of salmonella in bagged salads and sprouts.

Associate Professor Mark Turner said they would do taste testing and investigate the cost of adding ProbiSafe, to make it safer and healthier to eat.

They want to commercialise the “friendly” lactic acid bacteria, which inhibits the growth of salmonella and listeria and is naturally occurring in fruit and vegetables.

The lettuce would be washed in a solution containing the bacteria and would stick to it in the packaging during its shelf-life.

The researchers would also consider whether they could add other probiotics, already commercially available.

The industry has welcomed the proposal, after last year’s outbreak impacted growers across the country.

For more than two decades, apparently healthy children in the Indian region of Bihar suffered sudden seizures and lost consciousness. A third of them died, leaving doctors baffled.

But a team of American and Indian scientists say they have found the cause of the mystery illness, which killed more than 100 children a year: eating too many lychees on an empty stomach.

The research, published in [the] medical journal The Lancet, has found lychees — particularly unripe fruits — contain an amino acid that affects blood glucose levels.

“Parents in affected villages report that during May and June, young children frequently spend their day eating lychees in the surrounding orchards; many return home in the evening uninterested in eating a meal,” the researchers wrote, saying most children then arrived at hospital unconscious or having seizures in the middle of the night or early morning.

In South-East Asia, outbreaks of similar illnesses have been reported from lychee-growing areas of Bangladesh and Vietnam.

The researchers said the lychee’s potential toxic effects were noted in ancient literature from China, where the fruit originates, however the commercial lychee industry in India is relatively young and has expanded quickly.

To guard against the illness, the researchers recommended minimising lychee consumption and making sure children had an evening meal.

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